Registered Psychiatric Nurses, Partnering with People

Examination Attempts

You have 3 chances to write the examination within 4 years of graduation from an approved psychiatric nursing program (or, for international applicants, within 2 years of approval to write the examination).  After the first failure, there is no barrier to writing the examination a second time except for the time limit.  After the second failure, you must first take an approved remediation course before you will be permitted to write the exam a third time.  After the third failure, you may not write again until you have completed an approved psychiatric nursing re-entry program.

Preparing for a “comprehensive” examination can be somewhat overwhelming but there are a number of resources available to assist you. You may choose to prepare for the exam by reviewing some or all of the following books:

Psychiatry Texts:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., Text Revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.


  • Austin, W., & Boyd, M. A. (2008). Psychiatric nursing for Canadian practice. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.


  • Harmon Hanson, S.M., Gedaly-Duff, V., & Rowe Kaakinen, J. (2005). Family health care nursing, theory practice & research (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.


  • Trigoboff, E. (2005). Psychiatric drug guide. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


  • Zuckerman, E. (2000). Clinician’s thesaurus: The guidebook for writing psychological reports (5th ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.


  • Ralph, I. (2010). Psychotropic agents (15th ed.). Grand Forks, BC: IGR Publications.


  • Ann Isaacs, RN, MS, APRN-BC (2005). Lippincott’s Review Series, The Ideal Study Aid, Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing (4th ed) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins A Wolters Kluwer Company.


Med Surg Texts:

  • Day, R.A., PAUL, P., WILLIAMS, B., Smeltzer, S.C., & Bare, B. (2007). Brunner & Suddarth’s textbook of medical-surgical nursing (1st Canadian Edition.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


  • Smith-Temple, J., & Johnson, J.Y. (2006). Nurse’s guide to clinical Procedures (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Additional Information:

  • American Psychological Association. (2008). Publication manual of the American Psychological

Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.


  • Kail, R. V., Cavanaugh J. C., & Ateah, C. A. (2006). Human development, a life-span view (1st Canadian ed.). Canada: Nelson, a Division of Thomson Canada Limited.


  • Canadian Fundamentals of Nursing – 3rd Edition, Potter and Perry


  • Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification – 4th Edition, Springhouse Review


  • Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing – 4th Edition, Ann Isaacs, Lippincott’s Review