Healthcare worker researches how to become a Nurse Practitioner in Mississippi
Healthcare worker researches how to become a Nurse Practitioner in Mississippi

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Mississippi

Are you researching how to become a nurse practitioner in Mississippi?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mississippi has the highest concentration of nurse practitioners in the country. Approximately 3 in 1,000 jobs are nurse practitioner roles.

If you’re ready to start your nurse practitioner career in the Magnolia State, then you’re in excellent company.

Use this blog to learn the process for how to become a nurse practitioner in Mississippi. You'll also explore the career outlook, state practice environment and most sought-after specialty.

Why Become a Nurse Practitioner in Mississippi?

Before diving into how to become a nurse practitioner in Mississippi, let’s look at why so many nurse practitioners choose to practice there.

Primary Care Demand

Mississippi has a large workforce of nurse practitioners. Yet, the state still lacks primary care providers. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the current supply meets just 46% of the demand.

The shortage has produced a bright employment outlook for nurse practitioners, especially those certified to practice in primary care. According to the Mississippi Association of Nurse Practitioners (MANP), nurse practitioners are equipped to increase access to primary care.

Solid Earning Potential

Mississippi nurse practitioners have substantial earning potential. Many take home six figures.

The average salary is $110,740, which is just slightly less than the national average of $111,840. That makes Mississippi the 24th highest-paying state for nurse practitioners.

Across the state, the average salaries range from approximately $98,000 to $131,000.

Nurse practitioners working in Hattiesburg earn the highest average salary. Those employed in the northeast nonmetropolitan area earn the lowest.

Here are the typical salaries by region:

  • Hattiesburg: $130,360

  • Northwest Nonmetropolitan Area: $119.260

  • Southwest Nonmetropolitan Area: $114,840

  • Southeast Nonmetropolitan Area: $114,180

  • Jackson: $108,300

  • Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula: $102,610

  • Northeast Nonmetropolitan Area: $98,900

Evolving Practice Environment

Mississippi is one of 16 states with a reduced practice environment for nurse practitioners.

Current regulations require licensed Mississippi nurse practitioners to:

  • Practice within a collaborative/consultative relationship with a licensed physician.

  • Follow established protocols or practice guidelines.

  • Participate in a formal quality assurance/quality improvement program developed in collaboration with a physician.

  • Apply for prescriptive authority.

The MANP believes these rules prevent patients from accessing the primary care they need. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), restrictions on nurse practitioner practice delay care delivery, increase patient costs and limit patients’ ability to see their health care provider of choice.

The good news is that state leaders in nursing and government are actively trying to achieve full practice authority in Mississippi.

In February 2021, House Bill 1303 passed the Mississippi House and moved on to the Senate for a vote. The bill would allow nurse practitioners with at least 3,600 hours of experience (approximately two years of full-time employment) to provide primary care without collaborative agreements.

In March 2021, the Mississippi Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee decided not to consider a vote on the bill. The committee plans to examine the issue of practice authority during a session in summer 2021.

Mississippi Nurse Practitioner engaged in meeting with patient

What Are the Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Mississippi?

Now, let’s review how to become a nurse practitioner in Mississippi.

Before you start the process, you must become a licensed RN in Mississippi or another state in the Nurse Licensure Compact. Make sure your RN license is current and unencumbered.

Also, consider your current level of nursing education. Many nurse practitioner programs require candidates to have a BSN.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommends that RNs earn a minimum of a BSN. Research compiled by the AACN links nursing preparation at the baccalaureate level and higher to:

  • Lower mortality rates.

  • Fewer medication errors.

  • Positive patient outcomes.

As a licensed RN with a BSN, you can get started on becoming a nurse practitioner in Mississippi.

Here’s the process, according to the Mississippi Board of Nursing (BON):

  1. Be a licensed RN in Mississippi.

  2. Choose a nurse practitioner population focus.

  3. Complete a nurse practitioner program.

  4. Obtain nurse practitioner national board certification through examination.

  5. Get licensed as a Mississippi nurse practitioner.

  6. Find employment in Mississippi.

Step 1: Choose a Nurse Practitioner Population Focus

Your path to becoming a Mississippi nurse practitioner starts by choosing a population focus. This is an important step. According to the AANP, it ensures that your nurse practitioner education focuses on the clinical area in which you will ultimately practice.

Certified nurse practitioners are educated in one of six patient populations:

  • Family/Individual Across the Lifespan

  • Adult-Gerontology

  • Pediatrics

  • Neonatal

  • Women’s Health

  • Psych/Mental Health

Almost 7 in 10 nurse practitioners nationwide are certified in family health. That’s more than any other patient population.

You can also choose a practice specialty, depending on your population focus. Specialties relate to the specific health care needs of a population. For example, an aspiring family nurse practitioner can prepare for certification in dermatology or cardiology.

Nurse practitioner programs educate candidates to become certified in a single patient population. However, certified nurse practitioners can seek additional education to become certified in multiple specialties or patient populations.

As you weigh the options, read on to learn why many nurses become family nurse practitioners.

Why Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?

Family nurse practitioners enjoy a broad scope of practice. As primary care providers, they treat acute and chronic illnesses and educate patients on disease prevention.

Unlike other nurse practitioners, family nurse practitioners are educated to serve people across the lifespan. Their patients include infants, adolescents, adults and older adults.

The role has many benefits, including:

  • Broad Impact: Because they treat patients across the lifespan, family nurse practitioners can make a far-reaching impact on families and communities.

  • Positive Career Outlook: The growing demand for primary care providers means that family nurse practitioners benefit from ample job opportunities.

  • High Earning Potential: According to the AANP, the median total income of full-time family nurse practitioners is $114,000.

Explore more reasons to become a family nurse practitioner.

Your population focus and specialty area are personal decisions. Before deciding that, think about your clinical interests, career aspirations and the benefits of pursuing each area.

Step 2: Complete a Nurse Practitioner Program

Once you decide on a population focus, you can research and apply to nurse practitioner education programs.

The Mississippi BON requires licensed nurse practitioners to have graduated from a program granting a master’s degree or post-master’s degree. The latter includes post-master’s certificates and doctorates.

In the U.S., there are more than 500 nursing schools and more than 2,000 graduate nursing programs. Consider the accreditation status and the type of degree that fits your educational background as you evaluate them.

Why Is Program Accreditation Important?

Mississippi nurse practitioner candidates must earn their nurse practitioner degrees from an accredited program. Accreditation is important because it demonstrates that a program provides a high-quality education.

The U.S. Secretary of Education recognizes two nursing accreditation agencies – the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Certification boards and state boards of nursing accept both accreditations.

What Are the Types of Nurse Practitioner Education Programs?

There are three types of nurse practitioner education programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Post-master’s Certificate

Master of Science in Nursing
Nurse practitioner programs at the master’s level build on undergraduate nursing knowledge and skills. Graduates have an advanced understanding of nursing and, therefore, can practice at a higher level of the field.

Most MSN programs can be completed in 18 to 24 months of full-time study.

Doctor of Nursing Practice
The DNP pathway is ideal for aspiring nurse practitioners seeking a terminal degree in nursing.

Practice-focused DNP programs are similar to MSN programs in that they prepare experts in specialized advanced nursing practice. However, earning a DNP will also prepare you to transform health care at the organization and systems levels.

In recent years, leading health care organizations have called for an increase in the number of nurses with doctoral degrees. The recommendation comes as the demand surges for nurse educators, nurse researchers, advanced practice nurses and nurse leaders.

DNP programs exist for nurses prepared at the BSN and MSN levels. Depending on your previous education, you can complete a DNP program in approximately three years.

Post-Master’s Certificate
An MSN-prepared nurse can also become a nurse practitioner by earning a post-master’s certificate.

These programs help candidates deepen their clinical skills and nursing knowledge for specialty practice. Post-master’s certificates have a clinical focus because candidates already acquired other advanced nursing competencies, such as research and policy, through their MSN programs.

You can earn a post-master’s certificate in one to two years.

What Is the Nurse Practitioner Curriculum?


Regardless of the degree type, the nurse practitioner curriculum is intensive and comprehensive.

You'll complete evidence-based coursework and clinical rotations, developing competencies in the following areas:

  • Scientific foundations of nursing practice

  • Leadership

  • Quality

  • Practice inquiry

  • Technology and information literacy

  • Health care policy

  • Health delivery systems

  • Ethics

  • Independent practice

Step 3: Obtain Nurse Practitioner National Certification through Examination

After completing a nurse practitioner education program, you’ll be ready to obtain national certification.

Mississippi nurse practitioners must be credentialed by an approved certifying body. Two agencies grant nurse practitioner certification in the U.S. – the AANP Certification Board (AANPCB) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

What Is the Certification Process?

The AANPCB and ANCC certifications require candidates to complete an online application and pass an exam. The latter will evaluate your knowledge and skills in your population focus and specialty area.

In Mississippi, the BON can provide a temporary state certification to graduate nurse practitioners preparing for the national certification exam. This credential allows them to work under the supervision of a licensed physician or licensed nurse practitioner with at least five years of experience.

Certification renewal takes place every five years following the respective process of each board.

Step 4: Get Licensed as a Mississippi Nurse Practitioner

So far, we’ve covered several prerequisites for how to become a nurse practitioner in Mississippi:

  • Become a BSN-prepared RN.

  • Complete an accredited nurse practitioner program for at least one population focus.

  • Obtain national certification as a nurse practitioner.

The final prerequisite for new graduate nurse practitioners in Mississippi is to complete a monitored residency of 720 hours.

The residency is a separate requirement from the clinical rotations in nurse practitioner education programs. It must be monitored by a physician or APRN licensed in Mississippi with at least three years of experience.

Once you finish the monitored residency, you can apply for a state nurse practitioner license.

What Is the Application Process?

The application process takes place online and requires the following documentation:

  • Proof of RN license.

  • Proof of national nurse practitioner certification.

  • Official transcript from an accredited nurse practitioner program.

  • Evidence of monitored residency hours.

  • Verification of the protocol/practice for each physician with whom you have entered into a collaborative practice agreement.

  • Completion of a fingerprint-based criminal background check.

Successful applicants become licensed nurse practitioners in Mississippi.

How Do I Obtain Prescriptive Authority?

Mississippi nurse practitioners cannot prescribe controlled substances without obtaining prescriptive authority from the BON. If you wish to apply for prescriptive authority, you can do so on the application for state nurse practitioner licensure.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, all nurse practitioners authorized to prescribe controlled substances must register with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

What Is the Licensure Renewal Process?

As a licensed nurse practitioner in Mississippi, you must renew your credential biannually with your RN license. The deadline is Dec. 31 of even-numbered years.

The renewal process includes completing 40 continuing education hours in your nurse practitioner specialization.

Step 5: Find Employment

Licensed Mississippi nurse practitioners can find employment using the online job boards of nursing organizations. The AANP, MANP and American Nurses Association all offer this resource.

You can join the MANP as a nurse practitioner student. In addition to employment resources, the MANP gives members access to opportunities for networking, continuing education and professional advocacy.

Nurse Practitioner works on Mississippi patient records.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Mississippi Online

The process for how to become a nurse practitioner in Mississippi is rigorous. But it will also prepare you for a rewarding career. Texas Woman’s University can help you take the first step.

We offer a highly ranked online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner. The program is authorized to enroll students in Mississippi and more than 20 other states. (If you want to become a nurse practitioner but already have your MSN, consider our online post-master’s FNP certificate.)

The online MSN – FNP is uniquely designed to help BSN-prepared nurses develop as holistic primary care providers. As a student, you will:

  • Go beyond treating illness to understanding the range of factors that can impact health and wellbeing.

  • Deepen your knowledge of advanced topics to develop essential competencies.

  • Discover a range of resources for assessment, analysis and diagnosis.

  • Understand advanced practice nursing from multiple perspectives.

  • Build the professional, interpersonal and leadership skills needed for success.

The program is accredited by CCNE and recognized as one of the best nationwide. U.S. News & World Report ranked it as the best online FNP master’s program in Texas and the ninth-best in the nation.

Learn more about the online MSN – FNP at Texas Woman’s University.

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