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New Mexico Nursing License Requirements

The New Mexico Board of Nursing has as its mission the protection of public safety through the regulation of the practice of nursing in the state. Practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners in New Mexico complete education and training appropriate to their level of practice to achieve licensure from the New Mexico Board of Nursing. Learn about what is required to become a nurse in New Mexico by selecting one of the licensing categories below.

» How to become a licensed practical nurse (requires completion of a training program)
» How to become a registered nurse (requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree)
» How to become a nurse practitioner (requires a master’s degree)

4 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in New Mexico

1. Complete an Education in Practical Nursing.

Schools in the state of New Mexico must be approved by the New Mexico Board of Nursing as meeting the minimum requirements for practical nurse education to qualify graduates of such programs for licensure.1 Prospective practical nurses must have at least a diploma from an approved program. Schools that have been approved by the New Mexico Board of Nursing are listed on the Board website.2 Historical pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination from approved program graduates are also available.3

2. Complete a Criminal Background Check.

A criminal background check is required for practical nurse licensing in New Mexico.4 Applications for licensure will not be processed until the required background check materials are received.5 Candidates for practical nurse licensure can request the required fingerprint cards on the New Mexico Board of Nursing website.6 In addition to fingerprint cards completed at an authorized fingerprint provider, such as a law enforcement agency, candidates must submit the Fingerprint Certificate Form and Authorization for Release of Information form, which requires notarization.5 Both forms can be found in the application packet for initial licensure.5

3. Submit the Application for Practical Nurse Licensure.

The RN/ LPN Examination Application should be completed in its entirety to request a practical nurse license in New Mexico.5 Note that all demographic information requested is required and must be provided before a license can be issued.4 Incomplete applications will be returned to the candidate at the address of record.5

Candidates should request a final transcript to be sent from the school of nursing attended directly to the New Mexico Board of Nursing.5 Alternatively, if located in New Mexico the school of nursing may complete the Certification of Eligibility for Graduation of Nursing Program form included in the application packet, which requires a school seal.5

Graduates of nursing programs may request a temporary permit to practice on the application for licensure.5 To be eligible for this privilege, candidates must have an employment offer for direct supervision.5 Such permits are valid for a maximum of six months or until National Council Licensure Examination results are received.5

4. Register for and Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.

Pearson VUE, a third party testing company, administers the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) on behalf of the New Mexico Board of Nursing.5 To register for the NCLEX-PN, candidates should visit the Pearson VUE NCLEX testing portal.7 An Authorization to Test will be issued after a completed application is received and reviewed by the New Mexico Board of Nursing.5 Note that providing an email address to Pearson VUE may result in a more expeditious Authorization to Test than providing only a physical address.5

Exam results are typically reported to the applicant within four weeks of the exam date.4 Applicants who are not successful may re-take the exam up to four times per year, with a mandatory 45 day wait period between attempts.4

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in New Mexico

1. Complete an Education in Registered Nursing.

All registered nurses in New Mexico must have a degree from a nursing program approved by the New Mexico Board of Nursing.4 This approval demonstrates that a program meets the minimum requirements for educating and preparing registered nurses to practice.1 Those planning an education track in New Mexico can view a list of approved schools on the New Mexico Board of Nursing website, as well as historical pass rates that graduates of such programs have posted on the National Council Licensure Examination.2,3

2. Complete a Criminal Background Check.

All candidates for nurse licensure in New Mexico must undergo a criminal background check prior to a license being issued.4 The New Mexico Board of Nursing will not begin processing applications for licensure until background check materials are submitted.5 The required fingerprint forms can be requested using an online form.6 Fingerprint impressions can be taken at a local law enforcement agency or other authorized provider.5 In addition to the fingerprint impressions, candidates must furnish the New Mexico Board of Nursing with a completed Fingerprint Certificate Form and Authorization for Release of Information form, which must be notarized.5 Both forms can be found in the application packet for initial licensure.5

3. Submit the Application for Registered Nurse Licensure.

The New Mexico Board of Nursing provides the RN / LPN Examination Application for prospective registered nurses to complete to request a license.5 Note that all demographic information requested is required and must be provided before a license can be issued.4 The New Mexico Board of Nursing will return incomplete applications received to the candidate at the address of record.5

A final transcript from the school of nursing should be sent directly to the New Mexico Board of Nursing.5 As an alternative, schools in New Mexico may complete the Certification of Eligibility for Graduation of Nursing Program form included in the application packet, which requires a school seal.5

Nursing program graduates can request a temporary permit to practice using the initial application forms if an employment offer that includes direct supervision of graduate practice has been received. 5 A temporary practice permit is valid for a maximum of six months or until National Council Licensure Examination results are received.5

4. Register for and Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

Registered nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to earn a license in New Mexico.5 The New Mexico Board of Nursing contracts the administration of the NCLEX-RN to a third party company, Pearson VUE.5 Candidates can register to sit for the NCLEX-RN on the Pearson VUE website.7 After the application and background check materials submitted to the New Mexico Board of Nursing have been reviewed, an Authorization to Test will be issued.5 Applicants should note that providing an e-mail address in addition to a physical address may expedite issuance of the Authorization to Test.5

The New Mexico Board of Nursing typically provides applicants for licensure with NCLEX-RN results within four weeks of the exam date.4 Applicants who are not successful may re-take the exam up to four times per year, with a mandatory 45 day wait period between attempts.4

5 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in New Mexico

1. Obtain a Registered Nurse License in New Mexico.

Nurse practitioners in New Mexico must first receive a license in registered nursing in New Mexico or a compact state.4 Therefore, prospective nurse practitioners must first complete an education appropriate for registered nurse licensure and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

2. Complete a Graduate Level Education in Nursing.

A graduate level program in nursing at or above the master’s level must be completed before a prospective nurse practitioner is eligible for licensure in New Mexico.4 The program must be completed through an accredited institution of higher education or the armed services.4

3. Earn National Certification as a Nurse Practitioner.

National certification by examination as a nurse practitioner is required for nurse practitioner licensure in New Mexico.8 The validity of a nurse practitioner’s license is contingent upon maintaining national certification, evidence of which must be provided at each license renewal period.8

4. Submit the Nurse Practitioner Application Form.

The New Mexico Board of Nursing requires prospective nurse practitioners to submit the Nurse Practitioner Application form for licensure consideration.9 The form should be supported by official graduate transcripts and a completed Verification of Nurse Practitioner Education form, included in the application packet for licensure, sent directly by the school attended to the New Mexico Board of Nursing.9 In addition, national certification must be directly verified by requesting that the certifying association send confirmation of certification to the New Mexico Board of Nursing.9

Candidates who have met licensure requirements except for national certification may request a permit to practice as a Graduate Nurse Practitioner pending examination availability.9 The permit to practice allows the candidate to practice under direct supervision in an employment situation for a period not to exceed six months or when an attempt at national examination is unsuccessful, whichever occurs first.9

5. Complete the Requirements for Controlled Substance Prescriptive Authority.

Nurse practitioners in New Mexico may receive prescriptive authority and prescribe controlled substances provided that the nurse practitioner has completed 400 hours of supervised work experience in prescribing controlled substances or 400 hours of preceptorship in prescribing controlled substances.4 A nurse practitioner must apply to the New Mexico Board of Nursing for controlled substances prescriptive authority within six months of completing the work experience or preceptorship.4 To receive prescriptive authority, nurse practitioners should submit a Prescription Affidavit or Prescription Verification letter from the preceptor or supervisor of the required experience, printed on official letterhead, to the New Mexico Board of Nursing along with a notarized Affidavit Requesting Prescription Writing completed by the applicant.9

A New Mexico state controlled substances registration and registration with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are required for prescribing or dispensing controlled substances.4 New Mexico controlled substances registration for nurse practitioners is completed through the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy.10 Applicants should submit the Practitioner’s Controlled Substance Registration Application before requesting a registration with the DEA.11 Following confirmation of receipt from the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy, applicants can request a DEA control number through the online DEA Application for Registration.12

New Mexico Nursing Associations

Candidates for nurse licensure and licensed nurses in New Mexico alike can benefit from joining a New Mexico nursing association through continuing education, professional opportunities, and networking.

New Mexico Nursing Salary

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants 6,010 $26,210
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses 2,980 $46,990
Registered Nurses 14,780 $66,710
Nurse Practitioners 550 $94,530

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

References:
1. New Mexico Board of Nursing: Approval and Accreditation
2. New Mexico Board of Nursing: Approved Nursing Programs
3. New Mexico Board of Nursing: NCLEX RN/ LPN Pass Rates
4. State of New Mexico Board of Nursing Rules: Title 16 Occupational and Professional Licensing, Chapter 12 – Nursing and Health Care Related Providers
5. New Mexico Board of Nursing: RN/ LPN Examination Application
6. New Mexico Board of Nursing:Fingerprint Card Online Request Form
7. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex
8. New Mexico Nursing Practice Act: Chapter 61 Article 3
9. New Mexico Board of Nursing: Nurse Practitioner Application Form
10. New Mexico Board of Pharmacy http://www.rld.state.nm.us/boards/Pharmacy.aspx
11. New Mexico Board of Pharmacy: Practitioner’s Controlled Substance Registration Application
12. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration: Application for Registration Under Controlled Substance Act of 1970