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MCN’s complete guide to nursing abbreviations and acronyms

Acronyms and abbreviations for medical terms are frequently used by health care providers. It can be challenging to keep up with the lingo—especially as a new nurse. The following acronyms and abbreviations are used in hospitals across the United States. Whether you are working on mastering medical abbreviations or just looking for a review, these lists will get you started.

Click here for our comprehensive guide.

Nursing degree acronyms

The following are nursing degrees you might consider, depending on your level of experience and education.

A.S.N.–Associate of Science in Nursing

B.S.N.–Bachelor of Science in Nursing

D.N.P.–Doctor of Nursing Practice

FNP–Family nurse practitioner

M.S.N. – Master of Science in Nursing

Ph.D. – Doctor of Philosophy in nursing

Nursing role acronyms

Understanding these jobs and their acronyms can help you get to know the workers in your hospital, and it can help you think about your own career options as well.

CNA–Certified nursing assistants. Also referred to as patient care technicians and nurses’ aides.

CNM–Certified nurse midwife

CNS–Clinical nurse specialist

CRNA–Certified registered nurse anesthetist

LPN–Licensed practical nurse

RN–Registered nurse

Common hospital location acronyms

Know your way around the acronyms even before you know your way around the hospital.

CCU Coronary Cardiac Unit
ED Emergency Department
ER Emergency Room
ICU Intensive Care Unit
NICU Neonatal Intensive Care Unis
PACU Post-Anesthesia Care Unit
PICU Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
TICU Trauma Intensive Care Unit
SICU Surgical Intensive Care Unit

Nursing acronyms for nursing organizations and affiliations

The following is a list of organizations and affiliations that you may interact with or hear reference to when on the job.

AAPB Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
AARP American Association of Retired Persons
AASM American Academy of Sleep Medicine
AATH American Association for Therapeutic Humor
AHA American Hospital Association
AHCA American Health Care Association
AHCPR Agency for Health Care Policy and Research
AHNA American Holistic Nurses’ Association
AHRQ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
ALFA Assisted Living Federation of America
AMA American Medical Association
ANA American Nurses Association
APIC Association for Practitioners In Infection Control and Epidemiology
ARC American Red Cross
CARF Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities
CHAP Community Health Accreditation Program
FDA Food and Drug Administration
HPNA Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
HRSA Health Resources and Services Administration
INA Illinois Nurses Association
NAPNE National Association of Practical Nurse Education
NAPNES National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Services
NCCAM National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
NCHS National Center for Health Statistics
NCLD National Center for Learning Disabilities
NCLEX® National Council Licensure Examination
NCLEX-PN® National Council Licensure Examination—Practical Nurse
NCLEX-RN® National Council Licensure Examination—Registered Nurse
NCOA National Council on Aging
NCSBN National Council of State Boards of Nursing
NCVHS National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics
NF National Formulary
NFLPN National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses, Inc.
NSNA National Student Nurses Association
SCHIP State Children’s Health Insurance Program
SNAI Student Nurses Association of Illinois
YWCA Young Women’s Christian Association

Common nursing measurement acronyms

Know before you measure.

@ At
< Less Than
> Greater Than
Before
aa Of Each, Equal Parts, Arteries
c Cup
cc Cubic Centimeters
cm Centimeters
dr Drams
dss 2 teaspoons
fl Fluid ounces
ft Foot
g Grams
gal Gallon
gl Glass
gr Grains
gt Drop
gtt Drops
in Inches
kg Kilograms
L Liters
lb Pound
m Meters
mcg Micrograms
mEq Milliquivalents
mg Milligrams
mL Milliliters
mm Millimeters
oz Ounce
pt Pint
qt Quart
tbsp. Tablespoons
tsp Teaspoons
U Unit

Other key nursing acronyms and abbreviations

The following are some further key acronyms to make sure you’ve got down. For the complete list, refer to our website.

A&D or Adm. Admission and Discharge
A&E Accident and Emergency
Before
aa Of Each, Equal Parts, Arteries
AAA Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
ABC Airway, Breathing, Circulation
ABD, Abd, Abdo Abdominal, or Abdomen
ac or a.c. Before Meals
ATC Around the Clock
BSI Body Substance Isolation
C/O Complaint of
CBR Complete Bed Rest
CNS Central Nervous System
CPR Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
CSM Circulation, Sensation, Motion
D/C Discontinue
DAR Document, Action, Response
DX Diagnosis
FBS Fasting blood sugar
Fx Fracture
gtt/min Drops Per Minute
MAR Medication Administration Record
PO By mouth
q2h Every 2 Hours
qd Every Day
qh Every Hour
qid Four Times A Day
qod Every Other Day
qs Quantity Sufficient
SOB Shortness of breath
Stat Immediately
TPR TPR – Temperature, pulse, respiration
VS Vital Signs
W/C Wheel Chair
wt Weight
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