Earning an online nursing degree affords students the opportunity to care for people's health and well-being. Graduates of nursing colleges in Arkansas coordinate patient care, educate patients about their health conditions, and provide support to patients and their families. The increase in eldercare and chronic conditions and the greater emphasis on preventive care in the U.S. make nursing an especially attractive career. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of registered nurses will surge 15% by 2026.
Nursing schools in Arkansas prepare students to pursue both meaningful and lucrative careers. According to the BLS, graduates of nursing programs in Arkansas earn an average annual income of $58,000, far above the average income for all occupations in the state.
How to Become a Nurse in Arkansas
Requirements for becoming a nurse in Arkansas resemble other states. Learners who complete studies at nursing schools in Arkansas must abide by the specific requirements the state mandates both to earn and retain their license. In addition, the cost to become a licensed nurse in Arkansas likely differs from the cost in other states.
1. Choose the Path That's Right for You
Becoming a nurse requires reviewing the registered nurse (RN) programs in Arkansas to determine which accommodate your educational and occupational goals. Those hoping to become an RN must earn at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN), though bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs are also an option. Those hoping to get their master's degree can look at the online MSN programs in Arkansas. Finally, those hoping to earn their doctorate and teach at the college level can earn a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
Nursing schools in Arkansas require coursework in physiology, anatomy, nutrition, and behavioral science. Would-be nurses must master several functions: assessing patient health, administering medications and treatments, teaching patients how to manage health conditions, and consulting with other medical professionals. While online RN programs in Arkansas require about four years to complete, ADN programs usually require two or three years. The curriculum also mandates students to attend clinicals where they practice real-world patient care.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
Graduates of nursing schools in Arkansas who pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) earn a nursing license. The six-hour, $200 computer-based test includes questions about logistical and physiological aspects of nursing. Students may find helpful group studies and study aids like NCLEX practice guides and flashcards. Earning a license will allow nurses greater flexibility when deciding where they want to work.
Nursing Licensure in Arkansas
Completing an online nursing degree prepares nurses for the NCLEX. Graduates with an ADN or BSN still need to take the NCLEX if they hope to practice. Established by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the exam ensures that takers possess the necessary skills and aptitude to practice safely. The NCLEX probes your knowledge of basic care and comfort, safety and infection control, physiological adaptation, and health promotion and maintenance.
Test takers need to answer at least 75 of the questions correctly to pass the exam. The Arkansas State Board of Nursing provides information about how to register for and take the NCLEX. If you expect to move out of Arkansas and your license is in good standing, you can simply apply to your new state board of nursing to endorse your license.
Original License $0
Temporary Permit $50
State Requirements By Nursing Type
Any person practicing as a registered nurse in Arkansas must acquire licensure through the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. The Nurse Practice Act requires practicing nurses to renew their license on a biennial basis. Nurses who allow their license to lapse and have not practiced nursing during their preceding period for licensure may not get reinstated upon their request.
Arkansas allows RNs who hold a license from a compact state, which is their primary state of residence, to practice nursing in the state. Certification features both an endorsement and an examination application. Endorsement allows individuals to obtain their nursing license in a U.S. jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction of their original licensure. Eligible individuals must graduate from a state board-approved school of nursing. To apply, they must complete an online application, pay the associated fees, provide a valid U.S. Social Security number, possess a valid mailing address, and supply a valid email address.
Individuals who pursue licensure through the examination must pass the NCLEX. Before they take the test, they must pass a criminal background check and graduate from an approved registered nurse program. Three different locations administer the exam in Arkansas: Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Texarkana. However, students can take the exam at any testing location in the United States for licensing in Arkansas. If a candidate fails the exam, he or she can retake it every 45 days.
CNAs in Arkansas must undergo training. Multiple pathways offer training to individuals, with the most direct route being an Arkansas-approved CNA program. These programs include at least 90 hours of training and education. Nursing assistants who complete their program in another state but didn't gain certification in that state can take the exam in Arkansas if the Office of Long Term Care determines their training meets the federal standards. Alternate Healthcare Training for LPN or RN students allows applicants who complete the equivalent of basic nursing to take the CNA competency exam. Individuals can also complete home health aide programs if they meet the federal guidelines, allowing them to test as CNAs without completing a separate CNA training. Arkansas doesn't have a pathway for individuals with medical specialist training in the U.S. Armed Forces, though it allows those individuals to test their current training.
CNAs in Arkansas must take and pass the Nursing Assistant Competency Exam. Two components make up the test: practical skills and knowledge. The knowledge exam is only offered in English, but the exam does allow individuals to take the test in a written or oral format. Candidates who do not know if they want to take the written or oral knowledge exam can take a reading assessment. When applying, students should outline their preference. The skills portion of the test requires students to demonstrate a sampling of skills, such as helping someone walk, changing bed linens with the patient still in bed, or measuring breathing.
The first step to earning a practical nursing license (LPN) in Arkansas is to enroll in a board-approved program. Individuals should find a list of the board-approved programs before enrolling. Nurses can become LPNS by equivalency in Arkansas, which allows them to complete part of their coursework at a higher RN level. Nurses who complete registered nursing programs but fail the NCLEX-RN exam may be eligible for licensure by equivalency. Candidates who earn education and credentials as a licensed psychiatric technician nurse can also pursue certification by equivalency if they complete a board-approved LPTN program. Before licensure, they must also supply a criminal background check and pass the NCLEX-PN level exam.
Practical nursing licensure by endorsement in Arkansas licenses LPNs whether they complete a board-approved LPN program in their home state or earn licensure by equivalency. Out-of-state candidates can work under temporary permits while they go through the endorsement process. Permits get issued electronically and LPNs can verify their legal status by using the ABSN registry. These candidates need to document if they practice for fewer than five years to prove their practice time of at least 1,000 hours and graduation of an approved program. During the application process, candidates pay a $75 application fee. Temporary permits cost an additional $25, and candidates should apply when they are in the final two months of their approved program.
Nurse practitioners in Arkansas can focus their work on one or more of the following populations: psychiatric/mental health, neonatal, women's health/gender-related, adult/gerontology, pediatrics, or families/individuals across the lifespan. Arkansas APRNs have recognized advanced practice roles as certified nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists. Candidates must complete graduate education in a related nurse practitioner program. Multiple certifying agencies exist, and an approved certification agency meets the standards outlined in board rule.
Applicants must submit their application online through the board website. They must complete federal and state background checks unless they already finished one for the board within 12 months. They also must submit fingerprints per the instructions in their application. Additionally, they have to provide their official transcripts with evidence of certification. Advanced practice nurses who have their license in another state can earn licensure by endorsement in Arkansas. Nurses have to provide their license verification and verification that they passed the certification exam.
Temporary permits can allow students to practice if they pass a federal background check and a criminal background check through the Arkansas State Police. APRNs can renew their license at the same time they renew their RN license. They must demonstrate current certification, like APRN continuing education requirements, set by the certification agency. Five hours of contact hours for continuing education in pharmacotherapeutics relevant to their practice area need to be submitted for renewal.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Arkansas
Projections Central anticipates a 14.8% increase in professional nursing jobs by 2026. You can work in hospitals and medical facilities, private companies that provide at-home care, and large firms that require on-site medical staff to treat employees. Earning an advanced degree affords nurses even more occupational choices. For example, nurses pursuing a specialty like cardiovascular nursing or forensic nursing enjoy a competitive advantage. Earning a DNP enables graduates to teach university students and to continue to practice as clinical experts.
Employment Data For RNs in Arkansas
Registered nurses assess patient health needs and problems to develop and implement different nursing care plans and maintain patient medical records. They care for ill, injured, convalescent, and disabled patients. Registered nurses enjoy a mean annual wage of $73,550. The lowest 10% of employees see an annual mean wage of $48,690 while the top 90% experience an annual mean wage of $104,100. General medical and surgical hospitals see the highest levels of employment for registered nurses, followed by physicians' offices. Professionals in the field looking for the best paying industries should pursue opportunities in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry.
A 15% job outlook for registered nurses surpasses the average career in the United States. Within this field, 61% of employees work at state, local, and private hospitals, 18% work in ambulatory healthcare services, 7% work in nursing and residential care facilities, 5% work in government, and 3% work in educational services. Since patients in both hospitals and nursing care facilities require constant care, nurses in those settings work shifts that cover 24 hours, and they often work nights, weekends, and holidays.
Employment Data For CNAs in Arkansas
CNAs provide basic care under the direction of nursing staff. They feed, dress, bathe, groom, and move patients. They sometimes transport patients and change linens. CNAs earn an annual median salary of $28,540. The bottom 10% of CNAs see an annual median salary of $20,680, while the top 90% enjoy a salary of $38,630. The industry with the highest employment level for CNAs is nursing care facilities, followed by general medical and surgical hospitals and assisted living facilities. CNAs who want to experience the highest-paying opportunities in the field should seek employment in the federal executive branch or facilities support services.
Nursing assistants and orderlies help provide basic care to patients in hospitals and long-term care facility residents. They clean and bathe patients and residents, help them use the toilet and get dressed, and report patient health concerns to nurses. They enjoy a median annual salary of $27,510. The bottom 10% of employees make $20,680 annually while those in the top 90% make up to $38,630. Offering a median annual salary of $32,860, the government represents the highest-paying industry for nursing assistants and orderlies.
Employment Data For NPs in Arkansas
Nurse practitioners enjoy a mean annual salary of $107,480. Typically, salaries in the field range from $74,840-$145,630. In Arkansas, the annual mean salary is $95,230. More than 1,800 nurse practitioners work as nurse practitioners in the state, serving in physicians' offices, general medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, colleges and universities, and other medical facilities. Individuals interested in working for the top-paying industry in the field should find employment opportunities through personal care services.
Licensed practical and vocational nurses experience an annual mean salary of $45,030 (ranging from $32,970-$61,030). These nurses see the highest-paying jobs in the government industry with an annual mean salary of $46,660, as reported in 2017. Other high-paying industries for the profession include nursing care facilities, home healthcare services, hospitals, and physician's offices. Nurse anesthetists, midwives, and practitioners enjoy a hefty yearly salary of $110,93, with hospitals being the highest-paying industry. Nurse anesthetists earn the highest mean annual salary, at $165,120.
Biggest Hospitals in Arkansas
Graduates of nursing schools in Arkansas should search for work in the state's largest hospitals, which often recruit new talent. These facilities also frequently offer opportunities for internships and clinical practicums, allowing students to gain practical experience before graduating.
- University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) Medical Center: The only teaching hospital in the state, UAMS Medical Center both treats patients and educates medical professionals. Located in Little Rock, the medical center delivers care on an 84-acre campus. UAMS employs some 1,000 physicians and other professionals delivering patient care statewide.
- Arkansas Children’s Hospital: Arkansas Children’s Hospital focuses exclusively on children under age 21. It boasts more than 500 physicians, 200 residents, and 4,400 support staff. Located on a 36-acre campus, the hospital houses nearly 360 licensed beds and three intensive care units.
Additional Nursing Resources in Arkansas
- Arkansas Nurses Association (ARNA): The state's only professional organization for all RNs, ARNA helps nurses advance professionally and helps them feel safe in the workplace. It also partners with providers statewide to ensure access to quality healthcare.
- Arkansas Nurse Practitioner Association: This member organization supports and educates nurse practitioners and promotes their expertise throughout the state. It disseminates information about upcoming conferences and opportunities, and it hosts an online career center.
- Arkansas Nursing Students’ Association (ANSA): ANSA is an official constituent of the National Students Nurses' Association, Inc. It promotes skill development for those hoping to enter the profession and upholds both the standards and ethics expected of those already within the profession.
- The Arkansas School Nurses Association: The Arkansas School Nurses Association strengthens and advances the nursing profession through ongoing training and education opportunities that ensure quality healthcare within the school community. It recognizes school nursing as a specialized practice that ensures young people's health.
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association - Arkansas Chapter: The APNA Arkansas Chapter unites, supports, educates, and advances the identity of psychiatric nurses who practice in rural and urban locations throughout the state. It also advocates for high-quality mental healthcare, encourages psychiatric nursing research to enhance professional practice, and offers a forum for networking and support.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Arkansas
This database highlights all of the accredited ADN , BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP online nursing programs in Arkansas, including accelerated nursing programs in Arkansas. Nursing schools in Arkansas offer popular degree choices like the online RN to BSN programs in Arkansas and the online MSN programs in Arkansas.