A nurse practitioner (NP) is a type of advanced practice nurse who obtains a graduate-level education and brings specialized skills to the workplace. Some NPs can even prescribe medication, given they take all of the necessary steps to be able to do so, such as requesting Mississippi Board of Nursing Controlled Substance Prescriptive Authority, and registering through the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. An NP program requires hard work, and can be highly rewarding for nurses who finish and obtain the necessary skills to provide care to those in need.
Reasons to obtain an NP education range from gaining more autonomy and decision-making authority, to developing highly specialized niche knowledge, to finding opportunities for career mobility, to improved potential compensation and employability. As a matter of fact, healthcare is expected to be the fastest growing sector in the U.S. in upcoming years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and this includes an expanding need for nurses. Jobs for registered nurses (RNs) in Mississippi are expected to grow by 14 percent from 2016 through 2026 while those for NPs are expected to grow even faster, by 28.3 percent, according to Projections Central. In Mississippi (MS), this NP job growth could lead to 620 new positions becoming available through 2026.
Becoming an NP in Mississippi requires specialized and advanced skills in nursing. If you are a student new to the nursing field, you can start by working on your bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree, but if you are already in nursing or have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may be eligible to start with a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, or even a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, given you find the right program. Eligibility depends on the specific school or program.
STEP 1: Complete an Undergraduate Nursing Education (duration: 2 – 4 years) A Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree is an ideal stepping-stone to an NP program and education. Most MSN programs require this level of nursing education, although you could be accepted into some NP programs through a bridge program from a lower level nursing degree, like an associate’s degree. An associate degree in nursing (ADN) usually takes two years to complete while a BSN generally takes four years. Clinical hours in a bachelor’s program prepare you with hands-on experiences and to get ready for the NCLEX-RN (registered nurse) exam.
STEP 2: Obtain an RN License (duration: less than 1 year)In Mississippi, the options for RN licensure include examination or endorsement. The latter is for nurses who are already licensed in other states, whereas examination is for nurses seeking a new license credential in the state. The Mississippi Board of Nursing provides more details, and requires applicants to create an account online through its Nurse Gateway as part of the process. Some of the steps for obtaining RN licensure in Mississippi include:
If you pass the NCLEX-RN exam, your license information will be displayed on the state board of nursing website within five to seven days of receipt of scores to the board from PearsonVUE, according to the state board of nursing. Students who do not pass will be notified within 5 to 7 seven business days in writing.
STEP 3: Complete a Graduate-Level NP Education (duration: 2 – 4 years)NP education in Mississippi typically take two or more years to complete. This depends on a number of factors, including whether you enroll full- or part-time, the number of credit hours the program requires you to complete, the entry point (ADN, BSN, or other degree), and the terminal degree (MSN, DNP, or a post-master’s certificate). MSN-NP programs generally start out with advanced, core nursing courses and then move into courses and clinical hours in the chosen NP specialty area. NP specialties include family care, neonatal care, pediatric care, psychiatric/mental health care, women’s health care, and adult-gerontological care. Students study under an experienced NP (a preceptor) at a nearby facility to complete their clinical hours.
STEP 4: Obtain Nurse Practitioner License (duration: less than 1 year)APRN licensure is a license available to nurses completing specialty training at the graduate level, and may be available to NPs, but also to clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwifes and others. To receive advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licensure in Mississippi, applicants need to complete numerous steps. Also, applicants must already have their RN licensure in the state or be eligible to receive it to seek APRN licensure. Some of the steps to obtaining APRN licensure include:
Once APRN licensure is obtained it must be renewed every two years in even numbered years.
The admission requirements for NP schools in Mississippi vary a little bit from school to school. Generally, what’s important is knowing when the cut-off dates are for deadlines and making sure that needed materials are submitted before then. Some schools may have just one deadline each year while others may have two or three. Some nationally-based online schools may offer ongoing “rolling” enrollment.
Accreditation is important to check on for any NP programs in Mississippi under consideration. Not only is graduating from an accredited program necessary for seeking APRN licensure in Mississippi, it typically also is a requirement to be eligible to sit for most national certification exams. In fact, agencies like the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), and the National Certification Corporation typically require it, although there can be multiple routes to being eligible.
Accreditation is a lengthy process that schools go through and many schools prepare for it in advance. Accrediting agencies may look at the skills and background of faculty and staff, the curriculum being used, the way information is taught and shared and more. Schools that are granted accreditation have been found to meet specific guidelines in numerous domains established by an accrediting institution. Some of the most common nursing accrediting institutions are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), formerly the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Accreditation for some of the online NP schools in Mississippi is as follows:
Shelby Polk, DNP, FNP-BC, CDE is an associate professor of nursing and the director of the nurse practitioner track at Delta State University. She is board certified in family NP care, one of the programs offered online through the school at the MSN level. She received her DNP from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but both her MSN and BSN degrees from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Her areas of expertise include chronic disease management, rural health and primary care and family practice. She also is interested in building community partnerships to help meet nutrition and physical activity requirements. Finally, she is certified as a diabetes educator and a patient educator.
Audwin Fletcher, PhD, RN, APRN, FNP-BC, FAAN, is a professor of nursing as the University of Mississippi Medical Center and a teacher in the graduate nursing program. Although it’s not clear whether he teaches online, he is board certified as an FNP, which also is one of the MSN degree program areas and post master’s areas of study at the Medical Center available. Fletcher is interested in chronic illness, access to care for the African-American community, community outreach and the promotion of optimal health.
Karen L. Rich, PhD, RN is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Southern Mississippi, joining the school in 2004. She received her doctorate degree at the school, and both her MSN and BSN degrees from Louisiana State University. She also has a post-master’s certificate in psychiatric-mental health NP, one of the areas in which online programming is available at the school. Her teaching focuses include health policy, leadership, public health and more, and she has been published many times in book chapters, national and international journals, and has even contributed to national e-learning courses.
Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi offers a doctor of nursing practice degree for students who wish to study online, which includes a focus on family care. Furthermore, a range of options exist for applicants; specifically, the degree is available for students who possess an MSN, a BSN, or only an ADN degree. Each program will have different requirements in order for students to graduate, with the time for completion ranging from 1.5 years for those with an MSN, to 4.5 years for RNs.
The online programs offered at Delta State University have received accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, which helps to ensure a high standard of education delivered to students.
At the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, online nursing graduate students have the option of pursuing either a post-master’s certificate or an MSN, both of which include a focus on adult-gerontological care. Additionally, an ADN-to-MSN bridge program exists for those students who do not already possess a bachelor of science in nursing.
The University of Mississippi School of Nursing was founded in 1948, and since then it has delivered high-quality education to students both at the campus and through distance-based classes. The UMMC campus houses four specialized hospitals, including the state's only children's hospital, a women's and infants’ hospital, an adult hospital, and a critical care hospital. These learning hospitals give students at the school the chance to participate in unique clinical experiences that do not exist anywhere else in the state. The school also has Mississippi’s only Level 1 trauma center, Level 4 neonatal intensive care nursery and organ transplant program, which means that students here have the opportunity to obtain the experiences required in the field and population of their choice.
The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg offers both an online MSN and post-master’s certificate for online graduate nursing students. Additionally, specializations available in the MSN program include psychiatric-mental health and family care, while a specialization in psychiatric-mental health is only available for the certificate.
The University of Southern Mississippi is well-known throughout the South as one of the best institutions, both for nursing and for education overall. Indeed, U.S. News & World Report considers the school to be among the top 240 schools in the country, and the MSN and DNP programs are among the best 120, highlighting their quality.
Online NP programs in Mississippi often offer working nurses the opportunity to complete their schoolwork at the times that are convenient to them – this could even be in the middle of a lunch break. Some schools offer hybrid programs, which include both on-campus and online classes. Let’s take a closer look at some of the online NP programs available in Mississippi.
Keep in mind that clinical hours need to be completed at an actual physical healthcare site. Most schools allow students to complete clinical hours at a facility convenient to them, while some schools may want those hours to be completed near campus.
Clinical hours are needed to complete your MSN degree in Mississippi. This means working at a physical healthcare site and gaining skills in your chosen NP specialty area. These hours may vary based on a master’s degree or post-master’s certificate, but they are necessary be able to test for national certification and seek APRN licensure in Mississippi. Many schools have their program curriculum outlined online, giving interested students more insight as to classwork
expectations, and time needed for preceptorship and clinical hours.
NPs in Mississippi practice under a ‘reduced practice’ environment, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). While this is not as limiting as the ‘restricted practice’ established in some states, it also is not as autonomous as ‘full practice.’ Still, NPs in Mississippi do have the authority to prescribe medication, given they take specific, required steps – which are detailed on the state board of nursing website. Among these requirements are taking a full pharmacology course in an accredited MSN program and being granted controlled prescriptive authority in the state.