Top Arkansas Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs
Arkansas is currently experiencing a near critical nursing shortage. There are many reasons as to why this is happening and it is incredibly important that something be done to address these issues. At present, some 12% of the required nursing positions in Arkansas are vacant. Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the shortage will grow exponentially over the next few years. By 2015, the nursing shortage is projected to reach 24%, and it is believed that this will grow to 34% by 2020 if current trends continue.
As in all states, a number of factors are contributing to this shortage. Firstly, the population is aging and facing increasingly complex health needs. Secondly, the workforce itself is approaching, or has gone past, retirement age. As a result, the current workforce – which is already insufficient – will dwindle even more.
One particular reason why Arkansas is experiencing such a severe shortage so quickly is due to the crack down on “fast track work permits.” Much of the nursing workforce in the state had been filled with nurses from India, China and the Philippines, which is no longer possible. Although foreign workers are still attracted to positions in Arkansas, getting their work permits is now taking a much longer time.
There is a very significant need for nurse educators in Arkansas as well. Some 633 qualified applicants to nursing programs have had to be turned away, as there was no staff available to educate them. Additionally, only 5.7% of the current workforce is made up of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, who have master’s degree qualifications. Arkansas is also home to some 94 medically underserved areas, affecting 65.79% of the population.
The average salary of a registered nurse in Arkansas currently stands at $68,000, which is on par with the national average. However, the exact salary will vary greatly depending on where in the state a nurse works and what her specialization is. The highest demand is in Nurse Educator positions, followed by Clinical Nurse Manager, First Assistant, Radiology, Renal Dialysis and Cardiovascular Operating.
As in all states, the highest demand is for nurses who are educated to the master’s degree level. Nevertheless, various opportunities also exist for those with a bachelor’s degree, particularly if they are committed to their continuous professional education. Both federal and state governments are making concerted efforts to address the nursing shortage in Arkansas, making it an incredibly interesting field of work for students who are still deciding on what course to take.