Registered nurses (RNs) play a vital role in providing medical care to patients. They often collaborate with physicians and other staff to ensure that patients receive the best possible care in hospitals, clinics, residential care facilities, and other medical settings. RNs with experience and additional education can become nurse practitioners. Applying their additional knowledge, nurse practitioners can prescribe medication without physician approval, which makes them excellent resources in rural communities with few doctors.
Nursing schools in New Mexico offer both on-campus and online nursing degrees. You can choose the level of degree that best suits your career aspirations, whether it's an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from a nursing college in New Mexico. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 15% growth rate in the nursing field between 2016 and 2026. As the demand for nurses increases in areas where there are more elderly citizens, New Mexico's growing population of residents 65 and older indicates that the state is a great location for your future nursing education and career.
How to Become a Nurse in New Mexico
Nursing students have similar educational experiences, no matter their state of residence. For example, all nursing students must pass the NCLEX-RN, an exam that assesses students' knowledge and skills. However, the requirements to become a nurse in each state differ slightly. Some states use other licensure exams in addition to the NCLEX-RN and may charge varying licensure fees.
1. Choose the Path That's Right for You
At the very minimum, you must earn an associate degree in nursing to become a registered nurse. Many nursing schools in New Mexico offer this one- to two-year program, as it is the quickest way to enter the nursing workforce. Another path to becoming a registered nurse involves completing a BSN program in New Mexico. As this degree takes longer to complete and provides additional training, graduates with a BSN are more in demand than nurses with only an associate degree. Many colleges and universities in New Mexico offer online BSN programs. Online RN-to-BSN programs in New Mexico give registered nurses with an associate degree the option to further their education and increase their salary. Finally, you may wish to consider an accelerated nursing program in New Mexico.
After gaining experience as a registered nurse, you may want to become a nurse practitioner. To advance to this level, you must complete an online MSN program in New Mexico. Some registered nurses aspire to become university professors and teach the next generation of nurses. These nurses earn their doctorate, which provides them with the education necessary to teach at the college level.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
Online programs provide flexibility to students who are balancing a school schedule with work and/or familial responsibilities. Full-time students without other obligations might prefer on-campus RN programs. Whether on campus or online, your future program may require prerequisites such as college credit, work experience, or the completion of an internship or clinical experience. Before committing to a program, you must ensure that you can fulfill these requirements. Lastly, the amount of time you spend in school depends on your program. An associate degree may require only 18 months to complete, while a doctoral program may require 3-6 years.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
All accredited New Mexico nursing schools prepare their students to take the NCLEX-RN. The exam costs $200, and other fees may apply depending on the state where you test. Many nursing students preparing for the test purchase test-prep materials, such as flashcards and study guides. The NCLEX-RN is computer-adaptive and consists of 75 questions. However, the test may ask you up to 265 questions before the test's algorithm determines your score. Once you pass the NCLEX-RN, you may have to pass other exams to receive licensure in your state. Once you attain licensure, you must still go through a standard job application process before starting work.
Nursing Licensure in New Mexico
To become a registered nurse in New Mexico, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. An accredited associate or bachelor's program prepares you to perform well on this test. Depending on your state of residence, you may need to fulfill other academic requirements before receiving licensure. Once licensed in New Mexico, your license automatically qualifies you to work as a registered nurse in 25 other states due to the nurse licensure compact. As long as you work in one of these 25 reciprocal states, you do not need to pay extra fees or complete additional education or exams. To work as a nurse in a nonreciprocal state, you may need to complete some of the requirements mentioned above.
To learn more about nursing licensure in New Mexico and licensure reciprocity, please visit the New Mexico Board of Nursing official website. There you can explore detailed information about working as a registered nurse in New Mexico, including the various licensure and exam fees.
State Requirements by Nursing Type
New Mexico is a Nurse Licensure Compact state, and RNs can work in other NLC states without having to earn an additional license. If you are a resident of a different NLC state, you must apply for examination with that state's board of nursing. If you are a resident of New Mexico or any other state and are not yet licensed, you can apply in the state. To apply for licensure, you must submit to a criminal background check and have your transcripts sent to the New Mexico Board of Nursing by the college you received your education. If you already hold a license in a non-NLC state, you can apply for licensure by endorsement. If you were educated in a foreign country, you must be licensed by exam and have your credentials verified by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools or one of three other companies before examination. The application fee for RN licensure is $150 whether you are applying for licensure by exam or endorsement.
Renewal of your RN license costs $110, and renewal occurs every two years. You may not renew more than 60 days before the expiration, but the Board of Nursing will send you a renewal notice 60 days before the expiration. You must complete 30 hours of approved continuing education during each renewal period. If you let your license lapse, you may not practice until it is reactivated, which costs $200.
Certification of nursing aides in New Mexico is handled by the state's Department of Health. In order to become certified, you must complete an approved training program and pass the associated exam. Choice of training program is up to you, but all examinations are administered in the same way. New Mexico's Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Program is handled by a third-party company called Prometric. CNAs trained in other states can work in New Mexico, but must provide their current certificate as well as other identifying information to the Nurse Aide Registry managed by the Board of Health. Conversely, in order to apply a New Mexico CNA certificate in another state, you must submit a verification form to the Board of Health, which will verify the information and mail it to the state you requested.
The cost of the CNA exam is $102 plus taxes, and the exam must be taken in person at an approved testing location at a previously scheduled time. CNAs in New Mexico must renew their certification every two years. This costs $26.25 and requires that the CNA worked at least eight hours for pay during that two-year period. There are no continuing education requirements for CNAs in New Mexico, and they are tracked in the Nurse Aide Registry along with any records of any claims of negligence or abuse brought against them.
Licensed practical nurses in New Mexico follow the same procedures for licensure as do registered nurses. You must have transcripts sent directly to the board by your school and submit to a criminal background check, including fingerprinting. If you are a resident of a Nurse Licensure Compact state, you must apply for licensure from that state's board of nursing, but if you already hold a license from an NLC state, then you may practice in New Mexico without needing an additional license. If you are a New Mexico resident, have not been licensed in a non-NLC state, or were educated at a foreign school, you must apply for licensure by exam. If you were educated at a foreign school, you must have that education verified by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools or one of three other companies before examination. If you are already licensed in a noncompact state, you can apply for licensure by endorsement. The fee for initial licensure is $150, whether you are licensed by exam or endorsement.
LPNs have to renew their licenses every two years, and the Board of Nursing will issue a renewal notification 60 days before expiration. Renewal costs $110, and if you allow your license to lapse, the reactivation fee is $200. During each two-year renewal period you must complete 30 hours of approved continuing education in order to qualify for renewal.
In order to be licensed as an advanced practice registered nurse in New Mexico, you must hold an RN license in the state or in another Nurse Licensure Compact state. You must also complete a graduate-level program intended to prepare nurse practitioners and have your transcripts and proof of certification as a nurse practitioner sent directly to the New Mexico Board of Nursing. When you apply for your APRN licensure, you will have to choose a specialization based on your certification during your education. The options are certified nurse practitioner, certified nurse anesthetist, and clinical nurse specialist. Choice of specialization does not change the process or the fees required, but does limit you to practicing within the chosen specialization. Any of these specializations can be granted prescriptive authority pending approved education in pharmacology.
The cost of the initial APRN license is $100. Renewal also costs $100 and is required every two years. During each two-year renewal cycle, you must complete 50 hours of continuing education in order to qualify for renewal. If you fail to renew your license, you are prohibited from practicing in New Mexico until it is reactivated, which costs $200. The same fee applies to APRNs who have been set to inactive status either by moving out of the state or ceasing to practice for a period of time.
Career Outlook for Nurses in New Mexico
New Mexico offers a variety of opportunities for nurses at different career levels. Newly licensed registered nurses may begin their careers at one of the state's many large hospitals. Around New Mexico, registered nurses and nurse practitioners provide care to the state's growing population of senior citizens. In fact, the BLS states that recent graduates of online nursing programs with experience or certification in a specialty area, such as gerontology, have better employment prospects.
Employment Data For RNs in New Mexico
New Mexico employed 16,290 registered nurses in 2017, and the largest concentration of RNs was in the Albuquerque metropolitan area, which had 9,680 employed. The annual mean wage in 2017 for registered nurses was $73,550 in the United States and $69,840 in New Mexico. While RNs in New Mexico made less than the national average, those on the lower end of the paycale did better than their peers in other states. The lowest paid RNs in the state made less than $52,380, while the highest paid made over $93,500. The national equivalents were $48,690 and $104,100, respectively.
Employment Data For CNAs in New Mexico
The national annual mean wage for CNAs in 2017 was $28,540, and $27,050 in New Mexico. The lowest paid CNAs in the state made less than $20,070, while the highest paid made over $36,530 per year. The national minimum and maximum numbers of $20,680 and $38,630 respectively indicate that CNA wages in New Mexico are below the national average across the board. This is most likely reflective of the cost-of-living in New Mexico.
Of the 6,190 employed in the state in 2017, 2,630 CNAs worked in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. CNAs are most often found working in assisted living communities, which tend to be located in more populated areas. Those working in smaller towns or rural areas might find that they have less colleagues at work, but are proportionally employed for the amount of residents for whom they take care of.
Employment Data For APRNs in New Mexico
There were 960 APRNs employed in New Mexico in 2017, 420 of whom worked in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. APRNs in less densely populated areas might find themselves with lower pay, but having more responsibility as they fill roles often reserved for physicians. The mean wage for APRNs that year in New Mexico was $109,330, which is higher than the national average of $107,480. The lowest paid APRNs in the state made less than $74,020 that year, and the highest paid made over $147,940.
Biggest Hospitals in New Mexico
After completing your online nursing program in New Mexico, you may want to consider employment at one of the state's largest hospitals. Large hospitals routinely hire recent graduates and offer mentoring programs that can help you hone your skills by working with a more experienced nurse. Before you graduate, it would be wise to research local hospitals to discover potential internship and fellowship opportunities. An internship or fellowship can help your resume stand out when you apply for your first nursing position.
- University of New Mexico Hospital : UNHM is a teaching hospital and academic center. It boasts the distinction of having the state's only Level I trauma center, and the Albuquerque facility contains over 600 beds and treats nearly 160,000 people every year. UNHM's nursing staff have won national awards for their work.
- Presbyterian Hospital : In 2017, U.S. News & World Report rated Presbyterian as the best hospital in New Mexico. With over 450 beds, Presbyterian serves the Albuquerque area. Over 2,900 nurses work to treat approximately 150,000 patients every year. Through its employment portal, nurses of all experience levels can discover employment opportunities.
Additional Nursing Resources in New Mexico
- New Mexico Nurses Association: As the New Mexico chapter of the American Nurses Association, the NMNA advocates for the rights of nurses and the patients they care for. Membership includes discounts on professional, home, and auto insurance, and all membership fees go toward state lobbying efforts. Nursing students can apply for a limited membership.
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association: The APNA gives both registered nurses and nurse practitioners who specialize in psychiatry the opportunity to collaborate with their peers. The APNA provides its members with many professional development opportunities at the state and national levels. Other benefits include local chapter meetings and discounts on professional publications. Nursing students may join with no restrictions.
- New Mexico Nurse Practitioner Council: The NMNPC provides many benefits to its members including professional development opportunities and online networking. To assist students attending a nursing school in New Mexico, the NMNPC awards a $500 scholarship to four student nurse practitioners every year. Students do not have to join the NMNPC before applying for a scholarship.
- New Mexico School Nurse's Association: Public schools around New Mexico employ nurses to treat injured and sick students. The NMSNA lobbies for improved nursing services in New Mexico schools and increased funding for health education. Activities include collaborating with New Mexico's other nursing associations to advocate for the rights of the state's 16,000 nurses.
- The New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence: The NMCNE awards scholarships to students attending nursing school in New Mexico and provides nurses with professional development opportunities. Each year, the center recognizes approximately 20 New Mexico nurses for their professional excellence.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in New Mexico
Accredited nursing programs in New Mexico provide you with the education needed to begin your nursing career. Fortunately, New Mexico offers accredited associate, bachelor's, and master's programs. The following list includes all accredited online nursing programs in the state. You can use this list to learn about the degrees available to you and choose your future online RN program in New Mexico.