How To Become A Nurse In Mississippi

Choosing a career in nursing gives you many options both when it comes to your education as well as your employment. Careers in the health care field are not going away anytime soon, so they are also very stable careers. Deciding to go to school to be a nurse comes with a few decisions based on your experience, finances and career goals. If you have never worked in the medical field, becoming an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) gives you good experience but does not require the amount of education needed to be an RN (Registered Nurse). It gives you the chance to work in the medical field and determine if you want to continue and further your career. If you choose to become an RN, you also have the choice of attaining your associate’s or bachelor’s degree, again depending on your finances and career goals. If you want to work in general nursing, your associate’s degree will allow you to do just that. If you want to work in a specialty such as Oncology or Pediatrics, you would want to set your goal at attaining a bachelor’s degree. An associate’s degree will allow you to supervise LPNs and your bachelor’s will allow you to go into other higher-level nursing management positions. Becoming an LPN requires 12 to 18 months in school while becoming an RN requires two to four years of education. Most community colleges, vocational and technical schools offer LPN training at a moderate cost and usually have very flexible classes, which can allow you to work while you are going to school. Becoming an RN is more intensive and requires much more commitment. Whether you are going for your associate’s or bachelor’s, it is a good idea to choose a four-year college or university, so if you only attain your associate’s you can return to the same school for your bachelor’s degree.

Whether you attend a community college or four-year university, you must make sure that the nursing program they offer is accredited by the State of Mississippi Board of Nursing. The Mississippi Board of Nursing is responsible for making sure every school has an appropriate curriculum that will provide you with the knowledge needed to pass the state licensing exam. To become a licensed LPN you must take and pass the NCLEX-PN or National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses. To become an RN you must take the NCLEX-RN or National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses. The exam for both levels consists of four sections that must be passed separately in order to pass the test as a whole.

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)

If you are new to the medical field and decide to start as an LPN, expect to spend 12 to 18 months in school. You can attend a community college, vocational school or technical school, all of which are reasonably priced and allow you a flexible schedule. This can help immensely if you must continue to work while you go to school. Keep in mind you may be put on a waiting list when you sign up for an LPN program, as they are a very popular choice in community colleges. Even if you are put on a waiting list, you can take the rest of your required classes while you wait to take your nursing courses. Most schools choose people for their nursing courses when they are offered by the number of prerequisites they have completed as well as their GPA. You want to make sure the program is accredited by the Mississippi Board of Nursing to make sure you are learning what you need to pass the NCLEX-PN. One you pass the NCLEX-PN successfully you can work as a licensed LPN in the State of Mississippi.

Working as an LPN you will only be trained to provide basic patient care. It does however give you an opportunity to learn what is involved in working in the nursing field and decide if you want to further your career. Your scope of practice, or care you can legally provide, is quite narrow as an LPN, but it does give you experience. While you cannot pass medication or start or provide IV (intravenous) therapy with you LPN training, you can attend additional training provided by a state accredited facility to perform these skills. An LPN performs duties that are very basic and do not involve any nursing judgment. If you decide that the nursing field is something you want to continue in, most larger facilities offer tuition assistance for those employees that want to attain a higher nursing degree level.

RN (Registered Nurse)

If you have experience working in the medical field and are aware of what being an RN requires, you can enroll to attain your associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The choice between the two again depends on your finances and career goals. A good option is to attend and attain your associate’s degree, work in the field for a length of time, then return and attain your bachelor’s degree. In either case, your best plan is to attend a four-year college or university for either level, so that if you attain your associate’s you can return to the same school to finish your bachelor’s. Some larger hospitals also offer nursing programs, but their class sizes and acceptance of new students is very limited. The benefit is that if you do attend a hospital school of nursing, you will more than likely gain long-term employment with the same facility. Again, you want to make sure that whatever program you enroll in is accredited by the Mississippi Board of Nursing.

An RN has a much larger scope of practice than an RN. As an RN, you are expected to use your nursing skills and judgment to assess patients, be proactive in their care and provide suggestions for their care. You will also be responsible for supervising LPNs depending on the facility you work in. An associate’s degree allows you to work in all areas of nursing in a general capacity as well, so you can get the chance to work in different areas to see if you would like to specialize in one of them. An RN with a bachelor’s degree you can not only provide intensive patient care, but they can work in specialized areas as well as work in higher levels of nursing management.

Becoming an RN – Associate’s versus Bachelor’s degrees

As noted above the decision to go for your associate’s or bachelor’s degree depends on your career goals and finances. If you are not sure what specialty you want to work in or do not want to work in a specialty, an associate’s degree is sufficient. If you start working as an RN with an associate’s degree and find an area you want to specialize in you can return to school to attain your bachelor’s degree. With your associate’s degree, you can also take advantage of tuition assistance programs to attain your bachelor’s degree if they are offered at your place of employment.

No matter what level of nursing degree you attain, you are required to complete a certain number of Continuing Education (CE) credits per year. This number is subject to change each year but the state will notify you how may you need. These short classes update you on procedures, practices, or any one of a number of other nursing subjects. You must take the required number each year in order to renew your license every two years. Large facilities usually offer opportunities to take these credits on-site, or if you work a different shift or work in a smaller facility, you can take online classes for these credits as well.

Nursing Schools in Mississippi

While the LPN program is offered at a majority of technical schools, vocational schools and community colleges in Mississippi, the following schools are based on those attending for an RN degree of any level.

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Nursing School Locations

University of Mississippi Medical Center
School of Nursing
3500 N. State Street
Jackson, MS 39216-4505
Phone Number: (601) 984-6200

University of Southern Mississippi
School of Nursing
118 College Drive, PO Box 5095
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5095
Phone Number: (601) 266-5457

Mississippi University for Women
Department of Graduate Nursing
1100 College Street MUW-910
Columbus, MS 39701-5800
Phone Number: (662) 329-7106

Alcorn State University
School of Nursing
15 Campus Drive, Natchez, MS 39122-8399
Phone Number: (601) 304-4304

Delta State University
School of Nursing
PO Box 3343, Cleveland, MS 38733-3343
Phone Number: (662) 846-4255

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