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Mississippi will rely heavily on registered nurses (RNs) to satisfy its healthcare needs within the next decade. An expected shortage of primary care physicians and a continued need for skilled providers to fill expanding roles in a variety of environments will put nurses at the forefront of healthcare in Mississippi.

Exciting nursing opportunities are available at hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout Mississippi, including in cities like Jackson, Tupelo, Hattiesburg, Biloxi and Gulfport. These healthcare employers offer an attractive array of benefits, like tuition reimbursement, retirement accounts and opportunities to work in a Magnet-designated facility.

To fill more complex roles, some employers are asking nurses to go back to school to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. BSN-prepared nurses can find the best employment opportunities in Mississippi and can expect an increase in salary, compared to ADN- and diploma-prepared RNs.

The State of Nursing in Mississippi

Thanks to nurse recruitment initiatives by organizations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, there is hope that nursing shortages can be prevented in the coming years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects a nursing surplus in Mississippi of 11,200 RNs through 2025.

Other southern states show similar projected surpluses of nurses, with some exceptions. It is estimated that Georgia will be short about 6,700 nurses, South Carolina by about 600 nurses, and North Carolina by about 12,900 nurses.

Raw data, however, rarely tells the full story. For one, underserved areas still need RNs. Querying the “MUA Find” tool from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) reveals a staggering number of Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/Ps) in Mississippi; these are areas and populations that face barriers to quality healthcare access, many being Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). These are federally appointed health clinics that receive special Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

Another factor to consider is Mississippi’s projected shortage of primary care physicians (PCPs). Other southern states show similar projections, but Mississippi is expected to have the largest shortfall of PCPs, with a decrease of 32.9 percent.

Nurses will play a more prominent role in the healthcare system, assuming roles as primary care providers in some cases. According to the “Nursing – Supply and Demand Through 2020” report by Georgetown University, nurses will comprise 27 percent of the healthcare workforce by 2020. Mississippi, along with Alabama and Tennessee, is expected to have the highest percentage of working nurses.

Because of the responsibilities associated with working in pivotal healthcare roles, demand will be greatest for nurses who have a BSN or higher. One of the goals of Mississippi Campaign for Action has been to increase the number of BSN-prepared nurses. The campaign seeks to increase BSN enrollment by an average of 50 students each year; this would amount to an increase of 7 percent per year. These efforts are in line with “The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education” report by the Institute of Medicine (renamed National Academy of Medicine [NAM] in 2015), which recommends that BSN-prepared nurses comprise 80 percent of the nursing workforce by 2020.

Working as a Nurse in Mississippi

Salaries for RNs vary based on education level, role and location. A BSN will put you in a position to earn more and take on increasingly challenging roles. Examples of positions with a requirement or preference for a BSN include the following:

  • Nurse Manager: BSN required.
  • RN Utilization Coordinator: BSN preferred.
  • Emergency Nurse: BSN required.
  • Registered Nurse — Certified Mobile Research Nurse (CMRN): BSN or MSN required.

Annual average nurse salaries and cost of living scores in various cities throughout the state of Mississippi

City *Annual average salary for RNs (based on data from Indeed) **Cost of living score (based on data from Sperling’s Best Places)
Jackson $57,669 73.00
Biloxi $62,957 93.00
Hattiesburg $53,301 89.20
Tupelo $62,290 82.00
Gulfport $54,335 86.80

*These are average salaries. Compensation varies and may be higher or lower, based on position and education level.

**The Sperling’s Best Places scores are based on a U.S. average of 100. Scores lower than 100 signify that the city has a lower cost of living than the national average; scores higher than 100 signify a higher cost of living.

Note that salaries for RNs in Mississippi are lower than the national average, but take into consideration that the cost of living also tends to be lower.

As an RN licensed in Mississippi, you are also eligible to practice in other states, due to the Nurse Licensure Compact. Other southern states included in the Compact include North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Arkansas. So while Mississippi offers an abundance of challenging opportunities for nurses, you are never restricted to working in one state — you can practice in the other southern states either in person or via telemedicine without additional applications or fees.

A Look at Benefits

Another important factor to consider for employment is the benefits package. Mississippi healthcare facilities offer several benefits that can add real value to your compensation.

  • Baptist Health Systems in Jackson is a Magnet-designated hospital. Facilities are honored with the Magnet designation for excellence in nursing. Baptist Health Systems employees receive a host of benefits that include child care, discounted meals, a flexible spending account, a 403 (b) retirement plan, and credit union membership — in addition to traditional benefits like medical and dental coverage.
  • North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo ranked in the 87th percentile in Employee Engagement, which indicates a high level of employee engagement. The center has a 92 percent annual employee retention rate.
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson offers attractive benefits that include nursing tuition. RNs who work full time may receive 100 percent of tuition costs and up to $1,000 in lab fees per year.

When you consider the range and quality of healthcare facilities, employer benefits offered, lower cost of living, and challenging roles available, Mississippi is an ideal place for nurses to work.

To take on these roles, you will likely need to earn, at the minimum, a BSN. Consider the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) online program at Mississippi College for a comprehensive, faith-based education that will prepare you to thrive.

Learn more about the MC online RN to BSN program.

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