Arkansas is a great state to work in as a nurse. Demand is high and this is reflected in an excellent average annual salary of $56,150 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, demand is likely to continue to rise in this versatile profession. But how do you become a nurse in Arkansas?
ENTRY LEVEL PRACTICE NURSES
Becoming an entry level nurse is a 3-stage process.
STAGE 1. CHOOSE YOUR PROGRAM.
You can become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN). LPNs complete a diploma program, whereas registered nurses complete an associate’s degree (ADN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN). An LPN program takes around one year to finish, whereas an ADN will take two years and a BSN four years.
STAGE 2. COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS.
The LPN program usually have no requirements other than high school or GED. However, ADN and BSN programs will usually ask that you have completed some undergraduate courses.
STAGE 3. PASS THE NCLEX EXAM.
You need to take the NCLEX examination (PN or RN) after you have completed your educational program.
ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES
STAGE 1. EARN A GRADUATE DEGREE.
This must be a post-baccalaureate program at graduate level or above. The program must be approved by the Board and must be registered with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and/or the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, the programs must meet the requirements as set by the Board in their Arkansas State Board of Nursing Rules, Chapter 6.
Programs must prepare you to take on a specific advanced practice role. The curriculum must include advanced health assessment, advanced physiology/pathophysioloy and advanced pharmacology.
You may pursue a Certificate of Prescriptive Authority as an APN in Arkansas. To be eligible, you must have completed at least three credits at graduate level in pharmacology and/or 45 contact hours in pharmacology for continuing education (CE). You must also have completed at least 300 hours in a preceptorship that included prescribing therapeutic devices, drugs and medicine while being supervised.
APNs in Arkansas specialize in a population focus. There are different specialty areas of APNs and CNSs (clinical nurse specialists). APNs can focus on acute care, adult, adult psychiatric & mental health, family, family psychiatric & mental health, gerontological, pediatric, neonatal and women’s health care. A CNS can specialize in acute/critical care – adult, acute/critical care – neonatal, adult health setting, adult/psychiatric & mental health nursing, gerontological nursing and pediatric nursing.
STAGE 2. BECOME NATIONALLY CERTIFIED IN ONE OF FOUR AREAS OF SUB-SPECIALIZATIONS.
You can be certified in multiple areas. The four options are:
- NP – Nurse Practitioner
- CNM – Certified Nurse Midwife
- CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
- CNS – Clinical Nurse Specialist
The certification must be granted by one of the following agencies:
The ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) that recognizes the Adult Nurse Practitioner, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP), Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP), Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) and the Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).
The AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners) that recognizes the Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP.
The AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses)that recognizes the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
The NCC (National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties) that recognizes the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) and the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP).
The PNCB (Pediatric Nursing Certification Board that recognizes the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Acute Care and Primary Care.
The AMCB (American Midwifery Certification Board) that recognizes the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
The National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) that recognizes the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
STAGE 3. APPLY TO BECOME LICENSED.
For this you must provide your social security number. You must complete the Advanced Practice Nurse Licensure Application for all specializations and mail this together with the fee and supporting documentation to the Board. The Board no longer provides paper copies of licenses and you must check your status online.
You will also need to complete a full criminal history background check. Forms for this are included in your application packet. You can take a fingerprint card to your local law enforcement agency. This must all be sent to the Board together with the necessary fees.
You can also apply for your Certificate of Prescriptive Authority so long as you have met the necessary requirements. You must include a Quality Assurance Plan as well as the necessary fees. If you also wish to prescribe controlled substances, then you must be registered through the DEA.
STAGE 4. RENEW YOUR LICENSE TOGETHER WITH YOUR RN LICENSED BIANNUALLY.
This must be done no more than 60 days before it expires. Expiration date is the last day of the month of your birth. Your license renewal status can also be checked online.
You have to meet the necessary CE requirements for the Board as well. This includes 15 hours of contact hours focused on practice every two years. These requirements stand for both your APN and your RN license. You also need to meet the CE requirements of your national certification agency.
An additional 5 contact hours must be spent in pharmacotherapy that is related to your field of specialization if you hold and want to maintain your prescriptive authority.
You will not get a letter to remind you that your license is due for renewal. You will, however, receive a postcard renewal. Your APN license renewal costs $40, and your RN license renewal costs $75.
Arkansas State Board of Nursing
University Tower Bldg.
1123 South University
Little Rock, AR 72204-1619