The Best Arkansas Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Requirements

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Nurse practitioners (NPs) work in advanced practice roles, taking on more responsibilities than registered nurses (RNs). These professionals diagnose patients and prescribe medication. NPs in Arkansas work in a variety of areas, including gerontology, pediatrics, and women’s health. The Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN) approves three types of advanced practice nurses in addition to certified nurse practitioners: certified registered nurse anesthetist, certified nurse midwife, and a clinical nurse specialist.

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Because of their added responsibilities, NPs must spend considerably more time in school than RNs. These professionals need at least a master of science in nursing (MSN) in addition to a bachelor’s. Some NPs in Arkansas pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP), depending on their specialization and certification area.

This page highlights how to become an NP in Arkansas, outlining specific requirements for aspiring professionals, along with salary and employment trends. Read on to explore the best nurse practitioner programs in Arkansas.

Read about our ranking methodology here.

Best Arkansas Online Nurse Practitioner Program

  1. Harding University
    Location

    Searcy, AR

    Founded in 1924 in the city of Searcy, Harding University currently enrolls more than 5,000 students from around 50 countries. The school embraces Christian beliefs and holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    The university offers a master of science in nursing for family nurse practitioners. Degree requirements include 45 credits and 720 hours of clinical experience that learners can complete in five semesters. This program uses synchronous and asynchronous online classrooms and mandates campus visits every semester for assignments like presentations and workshops. Graduates qualify to take nurse practitioner certification exams.

    CAMPUS: Searcy, Arkansas
    TYPE: Private
    ACCREDITATIONS: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    TUITION: $9,307 for nine credits; $1,034 per credit for students who take less than nine credits
    ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Bachelor's in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license; 2,000 hours of RN experience; immunization record; prerequisite courses in nursing research, health assessment, and statistics
    MINIMUM TIME COMMITMENT: 5 semesters
    ON-CAMPUS REQUIREMENTS: Intensives for 3-5 days each semester
    PROGRAM: Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
    SCHOOL SITE: Tuition | Financial aid

Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Arkansas

The steps required to become a nurse practitioner in Arkansas include:

  • Holding RN licensure and working as an RN for at least 2,000 hours.
  • Earning a graduate degree or completing a postgraduate advanced practice nursing program. ASNB-approved NP programs in Arkansas should hold national accreditation. Arkansas law does not specify whether candidates need a master’s or doctorate. Degree level depends on a candidate’s certification requirements. However, learners should take core curriculum in physiology, pharmacology, and health assessment.
  • Obtaining certification from a national certifying body recognized by the ASBN. Candidates can earn certification by taking an examination offered by the certifying body. Aspiring advanced practice nurses should obtain certification within a specific concentration. ASBN approves certification agencies within the fields of family practice, gerontology, acute and critical care, pediatrics, psychiatry, neonatal care, and women’s health. The board provides a full list of approved agencies.
  • Submitting an application, which includes completing an application form, submitting educational transcripts, and undergoing a background check. In addition, applicants must verify both their RN licensure and their advanced practice certification.
  • Nurses who aim to prescribe medication must apply for prescriptive authority as a separate step to advanced practice licensure. This means candidates must attach two extra documents to their applications: a collaborative practice agreement and a quality assurance plan. Finally, nurses must contact the Drug Enforcement Agency to obtain a registration number. This allows nurses to legally prescribe controlled substances.
  • If advanced practice nurses arrive to Arkansas with licensure from a previous state, they can apply for licensure by endorsement. This involves submitting their education history and certification information to the ASBN. The board then decides whether candidates meet state qualifications.
  • Nurses must renew their advanced practice licensure — along with their RN licensure –every two years. The expiration date falls on the last day of the nurse’s birth month. Nurses can renew their licenses online up to 60 days before it expires. In order to successfully renew their licenses, nurses should complete the number of continuing education (CE) hours as dictated by their specific certification agency.
  • In addition, nurses who hold prescriptive authority need extra CE hours to renew their license. They should complete at least five contact hours covering pharmacotherapeutics every two years. Two of these hours should focus on state regulations and laws concerning professional boundaries and prescriptions for advanced practice nurses. The board prepares CE courses specifically covering these areas.
  • If nurses fail to renew their license, the license lapses. Professionals who have held lapsed licenses for more than two years must undergo a refresher course. The course must possess ASBN approval and consist of at least 200 hours, including a supervised clinical component.

In-Demand Nursing Specialty Eligibility Requirements in Arkansas

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGPCNP-BC)

Years of Experience

: Candidates must hold RN licensure, but this certification agency does not specify years of experience needed

Clinical Hours Required: At least 500 faculty-sponsored clinical hours, completed during graduate degree

Continuing Education: Complete 75 CE hours during each five-year period before renewal

Other: The graduate-level curriculum must include courses in advanced physiology, health assessment, and pharmacology. Courses should cover health promotion or maintenance along with differential diagnosis and disease management.

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care (CPNP-PC)

Years of Experience

: Candidates must hold RN licensure, but this certification agency does not specify years of experience needed

Clinical Hours Required: At least 500 clinical hours in primary care pediatrics, completed during graduate degree

Continuing Education: Complete 15 CE hours each year

Other: The graduate-level curriculum must include courses in advanced physiology, health assessment, and pharmacology.

Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM)

Years of Experience

: Licensure as an RN, registered dietitian, pharmacist, or physician

Clinical Hours Required: At least 500 clinical practice hours in advanced diabetes management

Continuing Education: Complete 75 CE hours during each five-year period before renewal

Other: N/A

Salary and Career Information

In 2018, Arkansas featured a mean salary of $104,300 for NPs — more than $40,000 higher than RNs in the state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This figure falls below the national average of about $110,030 for NPs.

However, NPs working in larger metropolitan areas in Arkansas earn salaries on par with the national wage. For example, NPs in Fayetteville make a mean salary surpassing $116,000.

In addition, the job outlook for nurses in Arkansas outpaces national figures. The U.S. Labor Department projects that the number of NPs could increase 37% in Arkansas from 2016 to 2026. In comparison, the job outlook for these nursing professionals nationwide show the industry growing by 36%.

RN vs. NP Salary and Projected Job Growth in Arkansas
  Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
Arkansas Mean Salary $60,780 $104,300
U.S. Mean Salary $75,510 $110,030
Arkansas Job Growth 15.7% 37.3%
U.S. Job Growth 14.8% 36.1%

Source: BLS, Projections Central

Arkansas Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Mean NP Wages
  Salary Employment
Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers, Arkansas – Missouri $116,180 280
Pine Bluff, Arkansas $112,770 40
Texarkana, Texas – Arkansas $111,080 50
Fort Smith, Arkansas – Oklahoma $110,940 110
Memphis, Tennessee – Mississippi – Arkansas $107,210 1,280

Source: BLS

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