New Mexico Nursing Programs

Overview of New Mexico Nursing Needs

The Land of Enchantment is an appropriate nickname for New Mexico. Miles of isolated highways cut through eye-popping desert landscapes; whether leading to mining ghost towns, small townships, or active cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe—visitors will find each destination rich in culture and history.

Still, job attrition makes living in New Mexico a challenging prospect. State and federal government agencies are assisting the local economy by offering incentives for businesses to build, films to be made, and students to attend school in New Mexico and hopefully stay on after graduation.

New Mexico offers 21 nursing programs that can take a student from the introductory LPN degree, on into Master’s and Doctoral programs. Graduates that become licensed in New Mexico may also legally practice in other NLC-compliant states such as Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Utah.

Job Outlook for New Mexico’s Nurses

New Mexico’s current unemployment rate is 6.8%, which is lower than it has been in the recent past and it is also lower than the national average. The state is hiring but it’s also letting workers go. Job prospects for nurses should continue to improve as more businesses and industries choose to build locally.

The national outlook for RNs is very positive; the US Department of Labor predicts a 26% rise in employment between 2010 and 2020. National predictions look very good for LPNs, too, with a 22% rise in jobs by 2020.

If graduates hope to work locally in New Mexico they will most likely focus their job search on more populous cities such as Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe–where the pay is better and the options more plentiful. However, underserved regions where doctors are in short supply could provide excellent opportunities for advanced RNs who gain prescriptive authority. LPNs preferring to avoid the big cities should take note of New Mexico’s Northwest region; in Farmington they can earn an average of $46,980 per year, which is the third best in the state, next to Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Despite a national need for nurses it is still wise to help improve your chances of success by setting yourself apart from the rest. In New Mexico, RNs with administrative, clinical or teaching experience are high in demand. This region is also rich in cultural diversity, making multilingual nurses fluent in New Mexican Spanish, Navajo or Vietnamese particularly appealing, depending on where one’s job search is focused.

Average Nursing Salaries in New Mexico:

Data from BLS 2011 10th Percentile 25th Percentile 50th Percentile
Registered Nurses $49,280 $55,750 $65,980
Licensed Practical Nurses $34,330 $40,720 $47,290
Nursing Aides $19,010 $21,260 $24,790
Home Health Aides $16,600 $17,860 $20,160

Licensing for Nurses in New Mexico

To legally practice in New Mexico, nurses must be licensed in one of two ways, either in-state or in a state that is compliant with the Nurse Licensure Compact. Nurses with licenses in good standing from other NLC states such Arizona, Texas and Colorado may also practice in New Mexico. To gain a New Mexico license, LPNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) and RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

In addition to standard licensing required by individual states, Continuing Education (CE) is also required so that licensed nurses remain current with healthcare changes in their chosen fields. New Mexico has stringent CE guidelines for all nurses seeking license renewal. LPNs and RNs require 30 hours of CE prior to renewal, whereas Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurses require 50 hours. Other nursing roles such as Nursing Assistants and Nurses with prescriptive authority require their own individual certifications for license renewal. The best resource for standard licensing is the New Mexico Board of Nursing website, and the best information for Continuing Education can be found on the New Mexico Nurses Association website.

Nursing Programs in New Mexico

New Mexico offers more than 20 nursing programs. Many local colleges such as Luna Community College and Central New Mexico CC provide courses for LPNs and RNs to gain Associate Degrees. As nurses choose to advance in education the options become more limited, though many schools are assisting by creating course loads that are compatible with other advanced degree programs. Nurses seeking BSNs have numerous options such as New Mexico State and New Mexico Highlands University.

For students choosing to specialize in a particular nursing field or pursue a Master’s or Doctoral program, schools such as New Mexico State and University of New Mexico can assist. When seeking out higher education institutions don’t forget to look at each university’s clinic and hospital alliances, because some may be more beneficial than others depending on one’s specific areas of expertise. Also note that some advanced degrees may need to be pursued, in part, in an online classroom setting.