PRN is a widely used acronym in medical documentation and jargon. It is an abbreviation of “Pro Re Nata,” which is a Latin phrase. The literal definition of this Latin phrase means “as necessary” or “as needed” or “as the circumstances arise.” PRN can be written as p.r.n as well.
When Is It Used in Medical Terms?
As mentioned already, this phrase is used quite often with the physician’s orders. This is primarily used when it comes to medications for pain management or painkillers. For example, the physician may prescribe something like, “Tylenol 200mg PO q8h PRN.” This would mean that you could give the patient Tylenol of 200mg by mouth, as needed every eight hours.
While there are certain medications, which have to be taken only at a specific time or only once or twice a day, it is different for pain medications. The patients can be in pain throughout the day, and since the physicians want their pain to go away, they can prescribe them to take their pain medicines every eight hours, or as required. So when the physicians tell the patients to take it PRN, it means they can have it every time they are in pain, but by giving a gap of at least eight hours between each dose.
Importance Of PRN In Medical Terms
Your medical career must know even the most basic terms related to your field. It is always important to “speak the language,” which can help you to get better as a physician or a nurse and eventually boost the patient with a full recovery. The patients would also feel safe in your care, and you would feel more confident when you have complete knowledge about these things. You would be able to understand better and interpret the orders of the physician and know the schedules of the medicine.
It would help to understand which medicines have to be given at a specific time and which ones you have liberty with. If the nurses and physicians are well aware of such instructions related to the medicines, then they would be in a better position to make the patients understand the doctor’s instructions. The patients would not have to live in discomfort or pain, once they fully understand the exact dosage of their medicines. A patient given the instruction of PRN may not remember that it means “pro re nata,” but he will definitely remember what the nurse explained to him about “as needed.”
PRN In Nursing
What PRN means in nursing is similar to what it means in medical terms. You may have heard the term “nurses are in PRN position.” When it comes to PRN nursing positions, it refers to “per diem,” which means that those nurses are not in a specified schedule like everyone else. While the full-time nurses may be required to work six to eight hours a week, the PRN nurses are not required to do those specific hours. They may have to work only a couple of shifts each month, depending on the hospital and its requirements. It varies between each hospital and its departments. The main reason for having PRN nurses is to fill in positions for nurses when there is a shortage of staff, or when the full-time nurses are on holidays or if they are sick.
Other PRN Employees
The term PRN is not restricted to nurses alone and can be applied to other employees as well in the medical-related field. The PRN staff can also be nursing aides, therapists, laboratory workers, sleep technicians as well as medical specialists. Since the PRN position is temporary, it is considered as a short term, part-time or fill-in work. This term, however, is generally used in the healthcare industry.
Difference Between PRN And RN
While PRN means “pro re nata,” RN stands for registered nurse. An RN can work as a PRN nurse, which would mean that they are no full-time employees and are just short term or contractual staff.
How Many Hours Do PRN Nurses Work?
How many hours a PRN nurse works depends upon the department and the hospital. Usually, a PRN nurse may work somewhere between zero hours to forty hours a week!
PRN Nurses and Travel Nurses
Travel nurses can also be considered as PRN nurses since they work on contracts and are not part of the permanent, full-time staff.
Why Work As A PRN Nurse?
Many nurses choose to work as PRN nurses as opposed to full-time staff. There are many benefits of working as a PRN nurse, such as:
- There are freedom and flexibility to pick the shifts that you want to do, and there is also the flexibility of working when you want to.
- It helps to supplement your income and make more money by having more than one PRN nurse job.
- The PRN nurses are generally able to earn more per hour, as compared to the full-time nursing staff.
- They do not need to request any time off and can work and take time off as needed.
- They can build a good reputation with employers.
There are many drawbacks of working as a PRN nurse as well; this includes:
- The hours that they work are limited and are not guaranteed since it is a temporary position. They may only find work when there is a staff shortage at a hospital, and that can also get canceled at the last minute.
- The hours that the PRN nurses work may not be ideal, and they may not have an option to choose. They may typically have to work at nights or weekends.
- They do not qualify for any benefit, which means they do not get insurance, retirement, or unemployment benefits.
Once you are in the medical field, you come across a lot of acronyms and abbreviations, which you may end up understanding in context, but may never know what they mean. It is good to have the knowledge and the know-how of such terms, which can come handy in the medical field.