Nursing in Rural New Mexico

New Mexico is the fifth largest state in America. It is known as the Land of Enchantment for its beautiful scenery. Outdoor activities include hiking, cycling, horseback riding and kayaking, to name a few. The two major employers are Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. Registered nurses are in demand in many of the state's rural regions. Reflecting a hiring trend nationwide, those with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) have a competitive edge in the job market.

Is There a Shortage of Nurses in New Mexico?

Yes, there is a shortage of nurses in New Mexico, but only outside of urban areas. The shortage is due to distribution because not enough nurses want to live and work in rural areas. Other reasons for the deficit in nurses mirrors the same problems other parts of the U.S. are experiencing.

For instance, the patient population is aging and living longer with one or multiple chronic illnesses. Senior patients have special needs that require more healthcare services. Additionally, a large segment of the nursing workforce, including nurse educators, is retiring. This is creating a limited supply of nurse educators to prepare students for the nursing practice, leaving gaps in employment.

Why Are More Nurses Needed in Rural Areas of New Mexico?

New Mexico has larger cities like Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Rio Rancho, but six of 33 counties in the state are labeled 100% rural by the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, New Mexico has a higher percentage of rural areas compared to the rest of the United States. And, the majority of the people in rural communities are age 65 or older.

What Kinds of Problems Is the Shortage Causing?

Recruiting nurses to fill vacancies in out-of-the-way places is difficult. So, the workload for nurses in rural areas can be overwhelming. Often nurses have to work double shifts or overtime because there aren't enough RNs to care for patients. Since healthcare facilities are routinely understaffed, nurses may have to undergo training so they can provide a higher level of specialized care.

How Does the Shortage of Nurses Affect Patients?

Overworked nurses are susceptible to fatigue and burnout, which can jeopardize the welfare of patients and increase the occurrence of medical errors. Also, there is a correlation between sufficient nurse staffing and positive patient outcomes according to study results found in "The Relationship Between Nurse Staffing and 30-Day Readmission for Adults With Heart Failure."

Why Is It Beneficial for Nurses to Have a Bachelor's Degree?

Many employers prefer to hire nurses with a BSN because they are prepared for the medical challenges associated with caring for older patients. With a BSN, nurses are qualified for a variety of nursing positions in all types of healthcare settings. Along with being ready for more job opportunities, RNs with a BSN have the potential to earn a higher salary than nurses with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) alone.

What Is the Average Annual Pay for an RN in New Mexico?

Glassdoor reports that the average base pay for an RN working in New Mexico is $69,270 per year, as of June 2019.

What Is the Average Annual Salary for an RN with a BSN in New Mexico?

ZipRecruiter places the average salary for an RN with a BSN employed in New Mexico at $78,551 per year, as of June 2019.

WalletHub ranks New Mexico as fourth of the 10 best places for nurses to work. Nurses open to relocating should consider the state for employment opportunities. New Mexico is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), so if you hold a license in a participating state, New Mexico will accept your credential to practice nursing. The rural counties of New Mexico need nurses who are eager to provide quality care to underserved populations.

Learn more about the University of New Mexico online RN to BSN program.


KOB4: Rural New Mexico Experiences Shortage of Nurses

WalletHub: Best and Worst States for Nurses

CNBC: Where the Jobs Are: Rural Hospitals Desperately Need More Nurses

The Atlantic: The U.S. Is Running Out of Nurses

Nurse Journal: RN Requirements by State Nursing Licensure Requirements in New Mexico

Glassdoor: Registered Nurse Salaries in New Mexico

ZipRecruiter: BSN Salary in New Mexico 18 Reasons to Live in New Mexico Rural NM Has the Highest Poverty Rate Among All States' Rural Areas

NCBI: The Relationship Between Nurse Staffing and 30-Day Readmission for Adults With Heart Failure

NCSBN: Nurse Licensure Compact

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