What Does PRN Abbreviation Stand For In Nursing?

PRN is an abbreviated medical term that is used commonly in the healthcare community. The abbreviation stands for “pro re nata“. This is a Latin phrase that means “as the circumstances arises.” In medical terms, that means “use when necessary.”

The medical community often uses Latin phrases for medical abbreviations. This can allow students of all different backgrounds to understand each other on a universal level. No one is sure though whether or not the phrase was coined with that intention.

This is usually in reference to administering prescribed medication to a patient that is not scheduled. Scheduled medication is administered to the patient every certain number of hours as prescribed by the doctor.

PRN medicine is given to the patient as needed. For example, if the patient is showing apparent symptoms of the diagnosed illness or suffering from intolerable pain outside the scheduled time for medication then it might make sense to administer the necessary amount of medication at that moment.

Another example, if the patient only experiences symptoms of his or her illness every couple days or weeks then it would not make as much sense to give scheduled medication. In this case, the patient would be given the prescribed dosage of medication as needed.

We trying to distinguish the difference between patients receiving medication as needed and as scheduled. If a patient is prescribed scheduled medication then it would not be wise for them skip the taking their medication and wait until the symptoms appear again or exceed the maximum daily dosage.

How to take the medication depends on the conditions and circumstances as it pertains to the patient. Patients should contemplate a couple things when taking PRN medication.

These questions should be asked:

  1. What situations are ideal for PRN medication?
  2. What is the recommended dosage to be taken?
  3. How might my body react to medication under these circumstances?
  4. Is this a good idea to take ​with other medication?
  5. What is the best solution for someone in my situation?

It would be wise to speak with a doctor to help answer these questions. It will give you a much better idea of how to take the prescribed medication. This is to make sure you are taking the medication correctly. Medication taken incorrectly can have harmful affects on the body. We should aim to avoid this.

PRN Job Positions

In the medical community, a PRN job position refers to working as needed. This means the employee does not have a set schedule throughout the weeks or months working for a specific healthcare facility. They only work when they are needed by the hospital.

These positions are perfect for nurses that want to work sparingly and not have a permanent position at the hospital. Nurses can work when their is labor shortage at the hospital or too many patients for the staff to handle and the hospital needs you.

This gives nurses a lot more options for work instead being tied down with one job. They can also work a PRN job while working their full time jobs because their schedules are so flexible. They also have more variety in their work experience because of all the different places they have worked in the past.

PRN jobs are not good for registered nurses who to want consistently though. For those who want to have a set schedule and know it advance when they are working, they should apply for permanent nursing jobs.

If you are a student, use your campus career center to help sort through your options. However, at that point in your career (in the beginning), we suggest you find a permanent job and build some work experience. If you are an experienced nurse (5+ years on the job), you can hire a staffing agency to help you sort through potential job opportunities.

See also Qhs medical abbreviation


In the medical community, PRN is an abbreviated term that stands for “pro re nata”. This means “as needed”. For nurses, there are multiple ways this term can be used. The main one refers to medication. Where a patient takes their medication as needed instead of on a schedule.  Another popular way this term is used refers to job positions.