Top New Mexico Nursing Schools and Programs

June 7, 2021 · 6 Min Read

Top New Mexico Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs. There is certainly a nursing shortage in New Mexico and this must be addressed. There are several reasons for this, not in the least the new Affordable Care Act and Medicaid...

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Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

Aspiring nurses can use this guide to learn more about online nursing programs in New Mexico. This page explains how students can pursue careers as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs).

Degree-seekers interested in online courses can read on to learn how online nursing programs work. The guide also features potential courses, New Mexico nursing licensure requirements, and helpful resources for nursing professionals.

Keep reading to learn more about online nursing programs in New Mexico.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in New Mexico?

In a state that faces one of the nation's most severe healthcare provider shortages, graduates of online nursing schools in New Mexico can find many opportunities to advance their careers and earn competitive salaries. The state's colleges and universities also offer some of the lowest tuition rates in the country, significantly below neighboring states Arizona, Colorado, and Texas.

According to U.S. News & World Report, New Mexico ranks 15th in the nation for affordable cost of living. As a result, the state's nurses benefit from lower living expenses than nurses in many other states.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in New Mexico

While nursing students in all states have similar educational experiences, each state maintains different requirements for nurses. All prospective nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN, an exam that assesses students' knowledge and skills. However, 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

    Individuals need at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN) to become an RN. Many online nursing schools in New Mexico offer this program, which typically takes students 1-2 years to complete. Another path to becoming an RN involves completing a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) 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 ADN. Many colleges and universities in New Mexico offer online BSN programs. Online RN-to-BSN programs in New Mexico give RNs with an associate degree the option to further their education and increase their salary. Some learners may wish to consider an accelerated nursing program in New Mexico. After gaining experience as an RN, individuals can pursue NP licensure. To advance to this level, nurses must complete an online master of science in nursing (MSN) program in New Mexico. Some RNs aspire to become university professors and teach the next generation of nurses. These professionals earn their doctor of nursing practice (DNP), which provides the education necessary to teach at the college level.
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    Online programs provide flexibility to students who balance school with work or family commitments. Full-time students without other obligations might prefer on-campus RN programs. Whether on campus or online, nursing programs in New Mexico may require prerequisites, such as college credit, work experience, or an internship or clinical experience. Before committing to a program, learners should ensure they can fulfill degree requirements. How long the degree takes depends on the 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. Other fees may apply depending on the state where learners test. Many nursing students prepare for the test with flashcards and study guides. The NCLEX-RN is computer-adaptive and comprises 75 questions. However, the test may ask up to 265 questions before the test's algorithm determines a score. Once students pass the NCLEX-RN, they may have to pass other exams to receive licensure. When they attain licensure, individuals must still complete a standard job application process before starting work.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in New Mexico

All nurses must complete some level of higher education. Through the many online nursing schools in New Mexico, you can earn the degree you need while continuing to work full time. Securing an online nursing degree provides the education and training you need to succeed in the field.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in New Mexico?

Online nursing programs in New Mexico offer a variety of courses and options for students to explore. Although no two programs feature the exact same mix of classes, learners often take similar courses. See below for some examples.

Clinical Nursing and Health Assessment

Students learn foundational skills in clinical nursing and health assessment, often with a simulated clinical setting to provide examples of applying nursing principles. Degree-seekers learn how to apply these skills to different populations.

Community Health Nursing

This course combines concepts in nursing and public health to explore the best ways to deliver care to individuals and families of various backgrounds and communities. Students look at addressing care across individuals' lifespans.

Ethics in Nursing

Learners consider various ethical responsibilities of nursing professionals and how they can apply these principles to their professional decision-making. The course explores common ethical dilemmas nurses face when caring for patients.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

While some programs offer all classes online, others feature a hybrid model, with a mix of online and in-person experiences. Hybrid programs often allow students to attend on-campus classes on nights or weekends for added convenience. Most students can graduate with a BSN in four years and earn an NP with 2-3 years of additional coursework.

An online degree works well for current CNAs or RNs who work while attending school. Many online nursing schools in New Mexico offer an RN-to-BSN option, giving practicing RNs a fast track to a bachelor's degree and the greater career opportunities that come with it.

Hybrid programs often allow students to attend on-campus classes on nights or weekends for added convenience.

Currently, 29 postsecondary institutions offer online nursing programs in New Mexico. In general, students must meet the same entry requirements for an online program as they would a traditional, on-campus option. These programs include public and private schools, along with institutions offering associate, bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. nursing options.

Nursing Licensure in New Mexico

The New Mexico Board of Nursing issues licenses for all practicing nurses in the state. The board oversees the approval and accreditation of all traditional and online nursing programs in New Mexico, ensuring each maintains minimum standards. The board also requires licensed nurses to engage in continuing education (CE) to ensure they consistently advance their knowledge.

The board also requires CNAs to complete at least 75 hours of an approved in-state nursing program, followed by passing the Nurse Aide Competency Exam. And, like nearly half of all U.S. states, New Mexico allows NPs to engage in full practice. Thus, NPs can serve as primary care providers, issue prescriptions, and provide treatment similar to the duties of a physician.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

New Mexico nursing licensure requirements vary depending on the type of nurse. The table below details requirements for CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and NPs, including clinical hours, examinations, and CE.

CERTIFIED NURSE ASSISTANT To become a practicing CNA, learners must complete a board-approved program, which includes a minimum of 75 hours of coursework. The next step is completing the Nurse Aide Competency Exam, which features two sections. The first tests knowledge through a computer or oral exam. The second places individuals in a simulated environment in which they demonstrate how they would manage a variety of common situations in a healthcare setting. Learners must pay a $100 fee and apply directly with Prometric, which issues the exam. A program director from the applicants' nursing school must complete a section of the application to verify students have met all requirements. Alternatively, learners may apply to take the exam if they have completed a military-based nursing aide training program within the past two years. To do so, they must receive an authorization letter through the state department of health.

New Mexico Licensure Requirements

  • Education: 75 hours of coursework in a board-approved CNA program
  • Additional Clinical Hours: None
  • Exams: Nurse Aide Competency Exam
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: None
LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE Prospective LPNs may complete a state-approved career ladder program in which they can take the exam to practice after just one year. After that, students may opt for an additional year of coursework to secure an associate degree. Learners then take the NCLEX-PN exam, which covers a variety of subjects and focuses on analysis, critical thinking, and decision making -- all key skills for nurses. To receive an LPN license, applicants must provide official transcripts from their traditional or online nursing program in New Mexico, along with proof of English competency. They must also undergo a criminal background check. Professionals must renew their LPN license every two years, submitting proof that they have completed at least 30 CE hours during that period.

New Mexico Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Completion of a board-certified LPN program or an ADN
  • Additional Clinical Hours: None
  • Exams: NCLEX-PN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: 30 hours every two years
REGISTERED NURSE To apply for an RN license, individuals must first obtain an associate or bachelor's degree from one of the accredited traditional or online RN programs in New Mexico. Depending on the program, students must complete a certain number of clinical hours before graduating and sitting for the exam. Once students meet this requirement, they can apply to take the NCLEX-RN exam. The RN license process includes a $110 application fee, a $44 criminal background check fee, and a $200 exam fee. The board usually takes 3-4 weeks to process the application before issuing an approval. Students should submit their application before graduating from nursing school. Practicing RNs must renew their licenses, which comes with a $93 fee. Nurses must engage in at least 30 CE hours to qualify for renewal.

New Mexico Licensure Requirements

  • Education: ADN or BSN
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: 30 hours every two years
NURSE PRACTITIONER To receive licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), individuals need a master's or doctorate from an accredited postsecondary institution. They must also take an examination from an approved third-party certification body. The exam depends on the nurse's specialty area. Because the state's nursing board can take several weeks to issue a license, nurses may secure a temporary permit to practice. An individual's employer receives this permit on the nurse's behalf as long as the employer intends to hire the nurse. To gain authorization to prescribe medications, NPs must complete 400 hours of preceptorship training along with demonstrated coursework in assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. Applying for APRN licensure comes with a $100 fee. Professionals must renew their license every two years while also engaging in at least 50 CE hours during each license period.

New Mexico Licensure Requirements

  • Education: MSN or DNP
  • Additional Clinical Hours: At least 400 hours for prescriptive authority
  • Exams: FNP ExamA-GNP ExamEmergency NP Exam
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: 50 hours every two years

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in New Mexico FAQ

WHAT NURSING FIELD MAKES THE MOST MONEY? According to PayScale, NPs in New Mexico make the most, earning an average annual salary of $97,510. Registered nurse anesthetists, informatics nurses, and clinical nurse specialists also benefit from high pay in the state.
HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE WHAT NURSING FIELD TO GO INTO? When making this decision, consider the level of education you must complete, the demographics you would like to serve, and potential salaries and job growth opportunities.
CAN SOMEONE BECOME A NURSE IN TWO YEARS? Yes. You can become a CNA by completing a 12-24-week certificate program. You may also find entry-level RN positions with an associate degree, which takes two years to complete.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN RN LICENSE IN NEW MEXICO? The state's board of nursing typically takes 3-4 weeks to process the application and issue an RN license. For that reason, individuals should submit their application as soon as possible after graduating from an online RN program in New Mexico.
IS NEW MEXICO A NURSE COMPACT STATE? Yes. New Mexico's membership in the Nurse Licensure Compact allows nurses to practice across state lines without applying for a new license. The bordering states of Arizona, Colorado, Texas, and Utah are also members.

New Mexico Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

New Mexico continues to face a significant nursing shortage, opening up opportunities for CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and NPs to fill these important positions. In fact, researchers say New Mexico faces the country's largest shortage ratio. The U.S. Bureau of Health Workforce has designated 32 of the state's 33 counties as Health Professional Shortage Areas.

Additionally, advanced practice nurses can provide primary care services to patients, helping address a shortage of primary care doctors. New Mexico's rural areas often experience the greatest challenges, giving nurses a variety of opportunities to play critical roles.

The charts below contain salary and employment data for New Mexico nurses. Individuals should note that these numbers depend on many factors, and no education or degree guarantees any level of salary or employment.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in New Mexico, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $28,310 9.8%
Licensed Practical Nurse $47,560 8.7%
Registered Nurse $71,730 12.9%
Nurse Practitioner $109,810 30.8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
United States $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
Arizona $31,450 $54,090 $77,000 $110,750
Utah $27,880 $48,130 $65,670 $105,840
Colorado $32,610 $51,210 $74,240 $111,210
Oklahoma $25,690 $41,260 $63,080 $103,280
Texas $27,030 $46,990 $72,890 $111,060

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant

New Mexico CNAs make an annual mean wage of $28,310, slightly below the national average, but higher than neighboring states Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. The BLS projects these positions to grow by nearly 10% in the next decade, outpacing state and national averages across all career fields. Serving as a CNA allows you to enjoy lucrative career opportunities, while also allowing you to advance to an LPN or RN with more education and training.

Licensed Practical Nurse

LPNs in New Mexico earn annual mean salaries of $47,560, in line with the national average. The BLS projects 10-year job growth of about 8.7%, slightly above the average career field in the state or nationally. New Mexico's LPNs often earn higher salaries than their counterparts in Oklahoma and Texas, but a little less than LPNs in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.

Registered Nurse

At about $71,730 per year, New Mexico RNs earn an annual mean salary just under the national average of $75,510. However, RNs in New Mexico make more than RNs in the neighboring states of Oklahoma and Utah. The BLS projects nearly 13% growth for the state's RNs over the next 10 years -- much higher than the roughly 7% found in the average career field.

Nurse Practitioner

NPs in New Mexico earn an annual mean wage of $109,810, roughly the same as the national average. They also earn slightly higher salaries than NPs in nearby Oklahoma and Utah, while making only a little less than NPs in Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. Most notably, the BLS projects more than 30% job growth over the next 10 years.

Nursing Resources for New Mexico

  • NMNA helps nurses advance in their careers through professional development, career services, and legislative advocacy, pushing for the integrity of the New Mexico Nursing Practice Act. The organization also offers resources to student nurses.
  • Founded in 1977, NMNPC serves the interests of the state's NPs through advocacy, CE, and legislative activities. The group offers scholarships for RNs enrolled in accredited NP programs.
  • A state agency, the board issues nursing licenses, provides license renewals, and upholds standards for nursing programs throughout the state. The board also maintains CE standards for nurses.
  • NMNAINA helps Native American nurses enter the field and advance in their careers through advocacy, scholarships, and collaboration with healthcare agencies. The organization spreads awareness of the field's career opportunities to native peoples.
  • NMCNE fosters continual improvement in nursing practice, education, and work environments. The organization offers scholarships, professional development opportunities, an annual conference, and advocacy at the state level.

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