Becoming an RN in Mississippi

The nursing field has always had its rewards. Getting that degree, though, can feel like an uphill battle. Faced with increased demand, Mississippi is working hard to lessen the stressors and help nursing students complete their education and successfully transition into the workforce. The state has an Office of Nursing Workforce (ONW); the center has received significant funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well as from the legislature. This has allowed for a lot of innovative programs.

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A person becomes a registered nurse by completing an ADN or BSN degree program. Mississippi programs are approved by the State Institutions of Higher Learning. The state currently boasts 14 ADN programs and seven BSN programs. Students typically begin with general studies as well as pre-nursing courses like nutrition, microbiology, and anatomy. The clinical portion of study includes courses in nursing concepts and health assessment across the lifespan.

Before licensure, a candidate must pass the NCLEX exam. Mississippi is an NLC (Nurse Licensure Compact) state. This means that if a nurse’s primary residence is Mississippi, s/he can practice in any of the 24 compact states.

Registered Nursing Pathways

Mississippi’s nurses enter the field with a variety of life experiences. A 2004 survey found that 61% of the state’s nursing students had a previous occupation. Fully 29% had a previous degree. Even students with no healthcare experience can move through a nursing program quickly if they have enough education in their own field. The assumption of any second degree program is that general studies courses have been completed; the accelerated BSN program makes an additional assumption that the student is ready for an intensive year round learning experience.

Mississippi also values the education and experience of LPNs. They have fast track options for earning their RN license. At Coahoma Community College, for example, the ADN course takes two years for most students, but takes just one year and one summer for those with LPN status.

Policies vary by institution. Some Mississippi schools have advanced placement options as opposed to separate LPN to RN tracks. There may be a test required for advanced placement. Some schools have students complete prerequisites and a short transition course. If students do so successfully, they are placed into the program with sophomore status.

Respiratory therapists and paramedics also have transition to RN options.

Registered Nursing Career Outlook in Mississippi

An aging population means an increased demand for nurses for years to come. Short term economic situations, though, do have some impact on hiring.

Currently, job prospects vary by location and type of facility. Some facilities have chronic vacancies even during recession years. The vacancy rate for Mississipi’s long term care facilities was 4.7% in 2010. District 9, at the very southern tip of the state, had a vacancy rate of 10.88%. The statewide hospital vacancy for RNs was 5% in 2009, but again there was a good deal of variation from region to region. District 1, in the northwest corner of the state had a vacancy rate above 10%.

The Application Process for Nursing School

Until fairly recently, Mississippi set admission standards for state funded schools. Now all the state’s nursing schools, including community colleges, are allowed to set standards above the minimum. An ACT score of 18 is generally expected for an ADN program and a score of 21 for a BSN program. There are some conditions under which students without the minimum ACT score may be admitted. According to state policy, students with lower scores may be considered, but they will need a higher GPA (2.5 at the ADN level, 3.0 at the bachelor‘s). Schools are also allowed to admit a small percentage of high risk students.

The reality, though, is that students often have to go above the minimum to guarantee themselves a spot. Expect that both GPA and test scores will weigh heavily in the selection process. Students with academic performance well above the minimum may be given priority or early admission. At Mississippi University for Women, a GPA of 2.75 and an ACT score of 21 may qualify a person for early admission to the ADN program.

It can be helpful to get an early start in the process. High school students in some areas of the state have the opportunity to explore the profession through organizations like AHEC and related agencies. These are pipeline programs that can help prime the younger generation for careers in health care and nursing that will help meet the future demands of the state.

ADN Programs Approved by the Mississippi State Board of Nursing

Coahoma Community College
3240 Friars Point Road
Clarksdale, MS 38614
PH: 662-627-2574
Copiah-Lincoln Community College
P O BOX 649
Wesson, MS 39191
PH: 601-643-8413
East Central Community College
P O BOX 129
Decatur, MS 39327
PH: 601-635-6294
Hinds Community College

1750 Chadwick Dr.
Jackson, MS 39204
PH: 601-376-4963
Holmes Community College
1060 Avent Dr.
Grenada, MS 38901
PH: 662-227-2303
Itawamba Community College
Fulton, MS 38843
PH: 662-862-8320
Jones County Junior College
900 S Court St.
Ellisville, MS 39437
PH: 601-477-4019
Meridian Community College
910 Hwy 19 North
Meridian, MS 39307
PH: 601-484-8745
Mississippi Delta Community College
P O BOX 668
Moorhead, MS 38761
PH: 662-246-6407
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
P O BOX 548
Perkinston, MS 39573
PH: 228-497-7660
Northeast Mississippi Community College
Booneville, MS 38829
PH: 662-720-7396
Northwest Mississippi Community College
HWY 51 North
Senatobia, MS 38668
PH: 662-562-3283

Pearl River Community College
101 Hwy 11 North
Poplarville, MS 39470
PH: 601-403-1017

Southwest Mississippi Community College
College Drive
Summit, MS 39666
PH: 601- 276-2008

Mississippi University for Women
1100 College Street
BOX W-910
Columbus, MS 39701
PH: 662- 329-7299

Alcorn State University
P O BOX 18399
Natchez, MS 39122
PH: 601-304-4300

BSN Programs Approved by the Mississippi State Board of Nursing

Mississippi University for Women
1100 College Street
BOX W-910
Columbus, MS 39701
PH: 662-329-7299

Alcorn State University
P O BOX 18399
Natchez, MS 39122
PH: 601-304-4300
Delta State University
BOX 3343
Cleveland, MS 39733
PH: 662-846-4268
Mississippi College
P O BOX 4037
Clinton, MS 39058
PH: 601-925-3278
University of Mississippi Medical Center
2500 North STATE ST
Jackson, MS 39216-4505
PH: 601- 984-6220
University of Southern Mississippi
BOX 5095
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5095
PH: 601-266-5871
William Carey University
498 Tuscan Avenue
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
PH: 601-582-6147