Mississippi Nursing License Requirements
The Mississippi Board of Nursing sets the qualifications for initial and continuing licensure for nurses practicing within the state of Mississippi. Nurses in Mississippi can obtain a license as a practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner among other specialty practice areas. This page will help explain the process for licensing in the three main categories of nurse licensure in Mississippi and help candidates determine the next steps for obtaining a nursing license in the state.
» 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)
5 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Mississippi
1. Obtain a Degree or Diploma in Practical Nursing.
A candidate for practical nurse licensure in Mississippi must have obtained, at a minimum, a diploma in practical nursing.1 The Mississippi Board of Nursing does not approve schools of nursing but does provide a list of in-state programs that are approved by the Mississippi Board for Community Colleges and/or the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.2 Prospective practical nurses who wish to administer IV therapy must complete a program with an integrated IV therapy curriculum.3
2. Submit the Application for License by Examination.
The Mississippi Board of Nursing provides the Licensure By Examination Application for prospective practical nurses.3 Note that the application must be notarized and must include the executed Authorization to Release Information form for the criminal background check.3 Candidates must request that the school of nursing send an official transcript directly to the Mississippi Board of Nursing for the application to be considered.3 Candidates who are still in school may submit the application along with official documentation of eligibility to graduate; if this is done, official transcripts must follow no more than 30 days after graduation.3
Licensed practical nurses who wish to be authorized to practice in an expanded role for the administration of IV therapy may request this role on the initial application.3 Completion of IV therapy education must be verified by completing the appropriate sections of the application form and providing an official transcript documenting an IV therapy curriculum.3
3. Register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.
The National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) is administered by Pearson VUE, a third-party company used by the Mississippi Board of Nursing.4 Registration for the NCLEX-PN is completed through the Pearson VUE website.5
4. Complete a Mississippi Criminal Background Check.
Seven to 10 days after submitting the application for licensure, a candidate for a practical nurse license should begin the Mississippi Criminal Background Check.4 A waiting period of seven to 10 days is recommended so that the application can be uploaded to the registration system.4 The registration for the Mississippi Criminal Background Check is completed online.6 After registration, the applicant may schedule an on-site visit to the Mississippi Board of Nursing to have fingerprint impressions taken.4
Unless otherwise authorized, the Mississippi Board of Nursing staff must take the fingerprint impressions; impressions provided by another agency will not be accepted.6 Current students should check with their nursing program for dates that the Mississippi State Board of Nursing staff will be performing campus visits for fingerprinting.4
5. Take the NCLEX-PN Exam.
Once all application materials for practical nurse licensure, including the criminal background check, are received by the Mississippi Board of Nursing the applicant will receive an Authorization to Test.4 The Authorization to Test is issued by Pearson VUE on the approval of the Mississippi Board of Nursing and allows the applicant to schedule and attempt the NCLEX-PN.4
Applicants who pass the exam will be able to see their issued license number on the Mississippi Board of Nursing website approximately five to seven business days after exam results are received.4 Applicants who do not pass will receive notification by mail along with a diagnostic profile that can provide guidance for further study before re-attempting the exam.4 A waiting period of 46 days is required between test attempts, and the candidate may attempt the NCLEX-PN up to six times within two years of graduating from a practical nursing program.4
5 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Mississippi
1. Obtain a Degree or Diploma in Registered Nursing.
Registered nurses in Mississippi must have a degree or diploma in nursing in order to qualify for licensure.1 Although the Mississippi Board of Nursing does not grant approval or accreditation to nursing programs, it does provide a list of nursing programs in the state that hold approval from the Mississippi Board for Community Colleges and/or the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.2
2. Submit the Application for License by Examination.
The Licensure by Examination Application should be submitted once a candidate graduates, or is prepared to graduate, from a nursing program.3 The application packet contains the application for licensure as well as an Authorization to Release Information form, both of which must be completed and notarized.3 The Authorization to Release Information form allows the Mississippi Board of Nursing to complete the required criminal background check.3 In addition, applicants should request that the nursing program completed forward official transcripts directly to the Mississippi Board of Nursing.3 Current students nearing graduation may provide official documentation of eligibility to graduate; however, official transcripts must then be submitted no more than 30 days prior to graduation.3
3. Register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.
The Mississippi Board of Nursing uses a third-party testing company, Pearson VUE, to deliver the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).4 Registration for the NCLEX-RN is completed through the Pearson VUE website.5
4. Complete a Mississippi Criminal Background Check.
The Mississippi Criminal Background Check should be started seven to 10 days after an application for licensure is submitted to allow sufficient time for the application and applicant data to be uploaded to the Mississippi Board of Nursing system.4 The criminal background check is begun by completing a registration online.6 Following registration and review of application materials, the applicant will be given instructions for scheduling an in-person visit to the Mississippi Board of Nursing to have fingerprint impressions completed.4
Unless exceptional circumstances are authorized, all fingerprint impressions must be taken by the staff of the Mississippi Board of Nursing to be considered for the background check and nurse licensure.6 Current students should check with their nursing program for dates that the Mississippi State Board of Nursing staff will be performing campus visits for fingerprinting.4
5. Take the NCLEX-RN Exam.
After the Mississippi Board of Nursing has received and reviewed all required application materials, including the criminal background check, an Authorization to Test for the NCLEX-RN will be issued.4 This authorization will be sent by Pearson VUE; once received the applicant may schedule and attempt the NCLEX-RN.4
Those who achieve a passing score on the NCLEX-RN will be able to verify their issued license through the Mississippi Board of Nursing website approximately five to seven business days after exam results are received.4 Candidates who are not successful on the first attempt will be mailed notification, which will include a diagnostic profile to guide studying for a re-attempt of the exam.4 Candidates must wait at least 46 days between test attempts.4 Candidates may attempt the NCLEX-RN up to a lifetime maximum of six attempts within two years following graduation from a nursing program.4
8 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Mississippi
1. Acquire Licensure as a Registered Nurse in Mississippi.
Preparatory to becoming a nurse practitioner in Mississippi, candidates must become professionally licensed as a registered nurse in the state.1 Prospective nurse practitioners should, therefore, plan to complete an education that qualifies for registered nurse licensure and pass the NCLEX-RN.
2. Complete a Post-Basic Program in Nursing.
To qualify as a nurse practitioner, candidates must complete a formal academic program in nursing at the master’s level that takes place over at least one academic year.1 The program must have as its primary purpose the preparation of nurses in specialized or advance practice.1 Although the Mississippi Board of Nursing does not approve or accredit nursing programs, a list of master’s programs in nursing is available through its website for reference purposes.7
3. Obtain Certification at the National Level.
Certification from a national organization that certifies nurse practitioners is an important prerequisite for nurse practitioner licensure.1 This certification must be obtained from an association recognized by the Mississippi Board of Nursing and must be kept current in order to continue practicing as a nurse practitioner.1
4. Submit the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certification Application.
The Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certification Application forms should be completed in their entirety in order to request nurse practitioner licensure.8 Applicants must include a copy of their current national certification; for new graduates, verification of certification should be submitted to the Mississippi Board of Nursing directly from the certifying association.8 An official transcript from the master’s program in nursing must be submitted to the Mississippi Board of Nursing directly from the degree-granting institution.8 Note the application materials also include an Authorization to Release Information form, which must be completed and notarized to proceed with the required criminal background check.8
5. Submit Practice Site Documentation.
Nurse practitioners in Mississippi must document their practice site(s) with the Mississippi Board of Nursing.8 A Verification of Protocol/Practice Collaboration form for this purpose is included in the initial application for licensure.8 A different form should be completed for each practice site or collaborating physician/facility.8
6. Complete a Mississippi Criminal Background Check.
All prospective nurse practitioners must complete a Mississippi Criminal Background Check. This process should be initiated seven to 10 days following submittal of an application for licensure; this waiting period will allow time for the applicant’s information to be uploaded to the Mississippi Board of Nursing system.8 The registration for the Mississippi Criminal Background Check is completed online.6 Following registration applicants may schedule an appointment to have fingerprint impressions taken by the Mississippi Board of Nursing staff.8
Except in unusual circumstances, the Mississippi Board of Nursing staff must take the fingerprint impressions for the fingerprints to be considered valid for the purposes of the background check.6 Students currently enrolled or recently graduated may wish to check with their nursing school for dates that the Mississippi State Board of Nursing staff will be performing campus visits for fingerprinting.8
7. Execute a Collaborative Agreement with a Licensed Physician.
Nurse practitioners must practice under a written collaborative agreement with a physician who has an unrestricted license in the state of Mississippi.1 The collaborative agreement should be filed with the Mississippi Board of Nursing.1 Though a license may be issued in the absence of a collaborative agreement, a nurse practitioner may not practice without a collaborative relationship defined by protocols and approved by the Mississippi Board of Nursing.1
8. Apply for Controlled Substance Prescriptive Authority, If Desired.
Prescriptive authority for controlled substances on Schedules II through V must be obtained by application to the Mississippi Board of Nursing.1 In order to obtain this authority, the candidate must have completed an approved education program as well as 720 hours of monitored practice.1,7 Nurse practitioners who meet these requirements may apply for controlled substances prescriptive authority by completing the Controlled Substance Prescriptive Authority section of the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certification Application.8
After preliminary approval of prescriptive authority is granted by the Mississippi Board of Nursing the applicant must register for a Federal Drug Enforcement Administration control number through the DEA.9 Once a DEA control number has been verified by the Mississippi Board of Nursing and issued by the DEA the nurse practitioner may prescribe controlled substances.8
Mississippi Nursing Associations
Licensed and prospective nurses in Mississippi may find it beneficial to join a Mississippi nursing association for professional, education, and personal growth opportunities.
- Mississippi Association of Student Nurses
- Mississippi Chapter of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing
- Mississippi Emergency Nurses Association
- Mississippi Nurses Association
- Mississippi School Nurse Association
- Know everything you can about the hospital or hiring agency before you go to the interview. The internet is a great resource for finding out this type of information. Examples include: number of beds in the hospital, private or for-profit, and areas of the hospital nationally recognized (surgery, cath labs, cancer treatment).
- Dress for the part for your interview. Sometimes scrubs are appropriate, but not all the time. A dress or pantsuit for women and a suit and tie for men.
- Put your cell phone away before going into the interview. In fact, do not even take it into the building with you.
- Show eagerness to learn during your interview. Ask questions about continuing education opportunities.
- Take extra copies of your resume with you to give to other people you are introduced to during your interview.
- Send a handwritten thank you note to the interviewer the following day. A simple ‘Thank you for the opportunity to interview’ goes a long way to make you stand out.”
Mississippi Nursing Salary
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses||8,990||$36,840|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2016.10,11,12,13
Job Search Advice
-Sonny Ruff, RN, FNP-C, DNP, CEN is a Chairperson of the Advanced Practice Committee, Mississippi Emergency Nurses Association
1. Mississippi Nursing Practice Law: Effective July 1, 2010
2. Mississippi Board of Nursing: Mississippi State Approved Schools
3. Mississippi Board of Nursing: Licensure by Examination Application
4. Mississippi Board of Nursing: License By Examination
5. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
6. Mississippi Board of Nursing: Criminal Background Check (CBC) Registration Instructions
7. Mississippi Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
8. Mississippi Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certification Application
9. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Diversion Control: Application for Registration Under Controlled Substance Act of 1970
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nursing Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm
12. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
13. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nurse Practitioners: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm