Skip to Main Content

Glossary Helpful Terms to Know

General Terms

Recognition that the nursing education program meets a (voluntary) standard of excellence set by an accrediting body. Often, the accrediting body is not a government entity.
Official recognition of a nursing education program as meeting the standards established by the appropriate government authority.
Authority granted to a nursing professional allowing that professional to practice nursing within the scope of his or her respective discipline. This authority is generally granted after a nursing professional has completed the required education and training programs within their jurisdiction. A qualifying examination leading to authorization may also be required.
A reprimand for an infraction or violation, which could be public or private.
An agreement between several jurisdictions that allows nurses from each jurisdiction to work in any participating jurisdiction without meeting additional requirements.
Additional education or training following initial authorization to practice. It is often required to remain authorized to practice.
Review and investigation taken by a regulatory council acting through its statutory authority, after a nurse has or is alleged to have violated the nursing laws, acts, or regulations. The regulatory council may take disciplinary action against the nurse’s license.
Having the skills, knowledge, competence, health, and character to practice within the nursing profession. This may include evidence of moral character such as criminal background checks and references.
An official publication by a government.
The means by which nurses are regulated in a jurisdiction, including the laws and regulations that apply to nurses and the organization with the authority to enforce these regulations.
Independent Nursing Council
An organization that operates independently from councils that regulate other professions.
The country, state, province or other geographically delineated region in which a single, uniform set of nurse laws applies.
A method by which regulatory bodies grant a nurse authorization to practice. Nurses must meet certain criteria to receive a license and are sometimes required to renew the license after a certain period of time.
The action or actions an organization is authorized to take.
Ministry of Education
A ministry of government that administers in multiple areas of education and education professions.
Ministry of Health
A ministry of government that administers in multiple areas of healthcare and health professions.
The ability of nurses to work across state, province or country borders.
Multidisciplinary Body
An entity that regulates in many areas or many professions, such as a Ministry of Health or Ministry of Education.
Mutual Agreement
An agreement between two jurisdictions that allows nurses from each jurisdiction to work in either jurisdiction without meeting additional requirements.
National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
A national licensure examination developed by the National Council State Boards of Nurses (NCSBN) for registered nursing (NCLEX-RN) and practical/ vocational nursing (NCLEX-PN) in the United States, the U.S Territory Members, Canada, and U.S. Associate Members.
National Examination
A nationally required examination for nurse licensure.
Nursing Diagnosis
An evidence-based clinical judgment that allows a nurse to develop a care plan and select nursing interventions.
Nursing Register (roll of nurses, register of nurses)
A list or database of every nurse currently authorized in a jurisdiction.
Limitation of practice.
Public Member
A member of the regulatory council that does not belong to the profession which the body regulates.
Qualifying Examination
An examination for nursing licensure.
A method by which regulatory bodies grant a nurse authorization to practice. Nurses must meet certain criteria to join the register and are sometimes required to renew their registration after a certain period of time.
Regulatory Body (board of nursing, nursing board, nursing council)
A governmental agency responsible for regulation of the nursing practice.
Permanent removal of a nurse’s authorization to practice.
Scope of Practice
The tasks and procedures that a nurse is qualified and authorized to carry out based on his or her level of training.
Summary Suspension
Emergency action to remove authorization for a nurse to practice in order protect the health safety and welfare of the citizens of the state.
Removal of a nurse’s authorization to practice for a period of time.
The practice of health care in which the patient and provider are not in the same physical location, through the use of telecommunications.

Nurse Types

Advanced Practice Nurse (advanced practice registered nurse)
A registered nurse who has a completed additional education, usually obtaining an advanced degree, and has advanced knowledge. These nurses can often diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatments and medications.
Certified Nursing Assistant (certified nurse aide) (C.N.A)
A person who is certified to assist with the delivery of direct nursing care to patients. Works under the supervision of a nurse.
Medication Aide (certified medication aide/assistant)(MA-C)
A person who is authorized to administer medication under the supervision of a nurse.
A nurse who specializes in care during childbirth and of mothers and newborns.
Nurse Anesthetist
A registered nurse who has advanced education, usually a graduate degree. They are responsible for administering anesthesia and pain medication for surgery and other medical procedures.
Nurse Practitioner
A registered nurse who has had additional training, usually advanced education at the graduate level. They provide initial, ongoing and comprehensive care including diagnosis and prescribing medication to patients in family practice, pediatric, neonatal, geriatric, psych/mental health and women's health/gender-related and acute or primary care populations.
Practical Nurse (vocational nurse, enrolled nurse)
An individual who has completed a practical nursing program and is authorized by a nursing council to provide patient care. Normally works under the supervision of a registered nurse, advanced practice nurse or physician.
Registered Nurse (RN)
An individual who has graduated from a school of nursing and is authorized by a regulatory council to provide patient care.
Specialist Nurse
A nurse who is part of a consulting team, and provides a specific type of advice, counseling, and care. In some jurisdictions, a type of advanced practice nurse.


African Health Profession Regulatory Collaborative for Nursing and Midwifery (A.R.C.)
A collaborative comprised of seventeen African member nations whose objectives are to: support and build nursing and midwifery capacity in order to sustain and increase HIV services; advance nursing and midwifery regulatory frameworks; strengthen nursing and midwifery organizational capacity and leadership; foster collaboration; and promote dialogue between member countries.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
A ten-member association of Southeast Asian nations, whose purposes and aims are to: to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors in the spirit of equality and partnership; to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter; to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields; to provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional, technical and administrative spheres; to collaborate more effectively for the greater utilization of their agriculture and industries, the expansion of their trade, including the study of the problems of international commodity trade, the improvement of their transportation and communications facilities and the raising of the living standards of their peoples; to promote Southeast Asian studies; and to maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes, and explore all avenues for even closer cooperation among themselves.
Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA)
An agreement that applies to trade, investment, and labor mobility within Canada, and is comprised of fourteen member provinces and Canada federal. The Agreement seeks to eliminate barriers in trade and mobility in goods, services, investments, and persons within Canada, by reconciling standards and regulatory measures through non-discriminatory treatment.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Comprised of fifteen Caribbean member states and five associate Caribbean member states, the overarching purpose of CARICOM is to encourage and engage in functional cooperation between Caribbean nations. CARICOM rests on four main pillars: economic integration; foreign policy coordination; human and social development; and security.
An arm of the East, Central, and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA- HC). ECSACON focuses on the areas of nursing and midwifery. The mandate seeks to promote and strengthen professional excellence in nursing and midwifery in the region.
East, Central, and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC)
A nine-member intergovernmental health organization that fosters and promotes regional health cooperation among member states.
European Union (E.U.)
A union of 27 member European countries whose goals and values are: to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its citizens; to offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders; to offer sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive market economy with full employment and social progress, and environmental protection; to combat social exclusion and discrimination; to promote scientific and technological progress; to enhance economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among EU countries; to respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity; and to establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro.
Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)
An agreement between 40 states and territories in the United States, allowing a nurse in a participating US state or territory to practice in any participating state or territory without the need for an additional nursing license.
Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)
An economic and political bloc, encompassing certain South American and Caribbean nations. The main objective of MERCOSUR is to promote a commonality in process of generating business and investment opportunities by integrating the national MERCOSUR economies into the international market.
World Health Organization (W.H.O.)
An agency of the United Nations that seeks to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system, supporting countries and work mainly in areas of health systems; health through the life-course; noncommunicable and communicable diseases; preparedness, surveillance and response; and corporate services.