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Mississippi’s nursing licensure pass rate higher than national average

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

  • Admissions are down slightly for those earning their first nursing degree. However, there has been an uptick in enrollment for graduate level degrees.

The number of Mississippi’s nursing students who pass their licensure exam the first time reached a milestone this academic year.

In the first quarter of 2024, nearly all of the 616 students – 98 percent – passed the nursing licensure exam on their first attempt, Dr. Melissa Temple, Director of Nursing Education, told the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees during Thursday’s meeting. 

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the total pass rate for first-time NCLEX nursing licensure test candidates for January to March 2024 was 94.15 percent nationwide.

Last year, the state’s average was 92 percent, also well above the national average of 88.56 percent for that year.

“I want to point out that our Mississippi programs do continue to outperform the national trend. The rate of 92 percent in 2023 is a very good rate, and for first quarter of 2024 we have a 98 percent first-time pass rate for our new nurse graduates from our programs in the state of Mississippi,” Temple explained.

She added that those numbers were achieved during a time when colleges and universities, especially community colleges, were seeing a decrease in nursing education faculty. 

“The faculty and administrators for our schools of nursing are doing an excellent job preparing nurses for our state,” Temple said. 

The staff shortage is expected to increase as more than 117 full-time faculty and deans have indicated their desire to retire within the next five years. 

Currently, Mississippi has 25 institutions providing nursing education across 41 degree programs. Of those, six are public universities, four are a private university or college, and 15 are community colleges.

The degree paths include 17 associates, nine baccalaureates, seven masters, three PH.D. programs and five Doctorate of Nursing programs.

Today, there are nearly 53,000 active nursing licenses within the Magnolia State. This past year 758 advanced practice registered nursing licenses were added to the state’s total of 13,290 active APRN licenses in this state, Temple told the IHL Board.

Admissions are down slightly for those earning their first nursing degree. Temple reported that 3,865 were enrolled for the 2023-2024 academic year, a difference of 59 students when compared to the previous year’s enrollment number of 3,924. Over the last five years, there has been an overall admissions decrease of 2.3 percent. 

“Mississippi schools did report having more qualified applicants than they could admit,” Temple noted. 

However, there has been an uptick in enrollment for graduate level degrees. During the 2022-2023 school year, Mississippi’s nursing schools produced 2,638 nursing graduates, which is an increase of 81 students when compared to the previous school year’s 2,557 graduates.

In other matters brought before the IHL Board last week, a new School of Health Professions and a new degree path for a Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence was approved at Mississippi State University. Associate Commissioner for Academic Student Affairs Dr. Casey Prestwood explained that the new school and new degree program will be established on the Meridian campus. 

The School of Health Professions will be housed under the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Department of Healthcare at MSU. Within that school, students can work toward degrees for a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration, or a Bachelor of Applied Science in Healthcare Administration.

In order to earn the Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence, students will need to complete 120 hours of a program that will equip them for careers in various fields. Those fields include technology, healthcare, retail, e-commerce, entertainment, automotive, agriculture and manufacturing. Prestwood told the IHL Board that the annual pay scales for these careers ranged from $90,000 to $150,000.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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