How To Become A Nurse In New Mexico

New Mexico is developing a medicine for the chronic nursing shortage in the state. Almost half of the state’s nurses are at least 50 years old and there is a projected need for 5,000 more nurses by 2020.

There are several paths to becoming a nurse in New Mexico and they depend on the type of nurse a student wants to become. There are 17 schools and colleges in the state that offer nursing programs accredited by the New Mexico Board of Nursing which approves schools and candidates to take the standard comprehensive National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a nurse.

One-year licensed practical nurse (LPN) programs do not always require prerequisites, but registered nurse (RN) education programs do and these can vary from college to college.

Colleges Collaborating on New Nursing Programs

However the New Mexico schools with nursing programs have formed a consortium and are collaborating on a plan to redesign and coordinate their systems to train more nurses. That move is critical to stave off a looming health care crisis, according to the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence.

Colleges in the Land of Enchantment already expanded their capacity in recent years, graduating 2,600 new RNs and 130 LPNs between 2002 and 2008, according to a recent report by the nursing center. However, shortages remain serious, with the report estimating a current deficit of more than 1,000 nurses.

LPNs make about $51,000 a year in New Mexico which is some of the best pay in the nation and RNs average $63,550 annually. There are 17,330 nurses in the state and most practice in hospitals in the populated areas like the capital of Santa Fe or Albuquerque, which is consistently ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the best business cities in the United States.

Most nurses choose one of two RN education programs in New Mexico, either a four year Bachelor of Science, Nursing (BSN) or a two year Associate Degree, Nursing (ADN). The first year of all training programs is similar.

Health Education Loans Can Be Repaid by the State

To entice nurses the state also has a Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP) that repays outstanding student loans of practicing health professionals. As a condition, nurses and other health care workers must practice full-time in a designated medical shortage area in New Mexico for two years.

Since 2005 the state has been in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to facilitate interstate practice and regulation.

With a home state license, an RN or LPN may practice in any other party state without obtaining any additional licenses. This is a big advantage because New Mexico is the only state in the country surrounded by sister compact states.

New Mexico features the famed Four Corners areas where four compact states meet and is in the middle of compact states of Utah, Arizona, Texas and Colorado, so nurses can work anywhere within hundreds of miles.

Nursing Schools in New Mexico

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Nursing School Locations

Eastern New Mexico University
500 South Avenue K
Portales, NM 88130
(800) 367-3668

National American University
1601 Rio Rancho Boulevard
Rio Rancho, NM 87124

Pima Medical Institute
4400 Cutler Avenue NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
(800) 477-PIMA

University of New Mexico
1 University Boulevard Northeast
Albuquerque, NM 87131
(505) 277-0111

Vista College
6101 Montana Avenue
El Paso, NM 79925
(915) 779-8031

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