Choosing an RN Program in Mississippi
Mississippi RN programs are approved by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. The standard is high: accreditation by a nationally recognized programmatic accrediting agency. This may be the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). A student who selects a program with either accreditation can be confident of the integrity of the program and in most cases will be able to transfer credits readily to a higher program.
The Mississippi Board of Nursing, though not involved with the actual approval process, provides a list of programs. The Institutions of Higher Learning provides additional information about Mississippi RN programs in its annual reports. The notation “continued accreditation with conditions” can indicate some level of concern.
Program Level and Admission Requirements
Most programs have full accreditation. With so many high quality programs, how does one choose?
A prospective nurse will need to decide whether to do a pre-licensure program at the associate (ADN) or baccalaureate (BSN) level. While the license will be the same, there is some differentiation between roles. The Mississippi Competency Model delineates the roles of registered nurses at different levels. Many positions nationwide favor candidates with BSNs.
All ADN programs in Mississippi are at public colleges (in most cases, community colleges). BSN programs are housed at both public and private institutions.
A prospective student may want to inquire about NCLEX scores as the NCLEX exam is a licensing requirement. Mississippi requires an 80% pass rate (http://www.ihl.state.ms.us/nursing/downloads/standards_2013.pdf). Repeated failure can lead to program closure. The annual program report includes three years of pass rates (http://www.ihl.state.ms.us/nursing/).
Admission Requirements for ADN and BSN Programs in MS
There is some parity in admission requirements at state-supported ADN and BSN programs in Mississippi. This is because Mississippi has chosen to set minimum standards with regards to test scores and prerequisites .
However, schools are allowed to impose additional requirements. With such high demand, higher level programs can become selective indeed.
Not surprisingly, the requirements for BSN admission are set somewhat higher than those for ADN admission.
Some programs have waitlists. Students looking for programs without waitlists may consult the Discover Nursing website – but should recognize that some may not appear (http://www.discovernursing.com/schools#no-filters).
Program Completion Rates
A prospective student may also consider program completion rate. Mississippi requires schools to keep records of the number of students who did not complete the program in a given period of time for reasons related to program outcomes or expectations — for example, failing coursework.
Completion rates may give some clue as to the level of support granted. They may also reflect program demographics, as Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning notes. The organization publishes completion rates in the annual program report. The organization also notes which programs are below expected levels; a few ADN programs are in this category, but no programs at the BSN level or higher are.
Financing Nursing School in Mississippi
There are financial aid opportunities available for both ADN and BSN students, but more are available at the BSN level (http://www.ihl.state.ms.us/nursing/).
The state of Mississippi includes nurses in its loan scholarship program. Such awards carry a service obligation. There are a number of other state-funded financial aid opportunities. State programs can be found on the site of Rise Up.
Students typically apply for state aid after filling out the federal financial aid application. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the ticket to need-based federal financial aid programs.
The Mississippi Office of Nursing Workforce has collaborated with other state agencies to publish a guide to understanding nursing education opportunities — and to financing them. The guide is a few years old and details about individual programs may need to be verified with the schools. However, there is a wealth of still useful information.
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