Top Arkansas Nursing Schools and Programs

June 7, 2021 · 6 Min Read

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...

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Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

Students enrolled in online nursing programs in Arkansas can study at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. In this guide, learners can review detailed information about online program options and the requirements to become a registered nurse (RN), certified nurse assistant (CNA), nurse practitioner (NP), or licensed practical nurse (LPN).

This guide also provides information on salary and employment trends, state requirements for licensing by nursing type, how online programs work, resources for nurses in Arkansas, and common coursework.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Arkansas?

Arkansas students considering online nursing degrees enjoy the 18th lowest tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students in public four-year universities across the United States. Along with affordable tuition, nursing students can seek state-specific scholarship opportunities.

Arkansas features the 12th lowest cost of living in the country. Combined with low tuition costs, the affordable cost of living allows degree-seekers in the state to balance the cost of their education effectively.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in Arkansas

Requirements for becoming a nurse in Arkansas are similar to other states. Students who complete their studies at nursing schools in Arkansas must abide by specific state requirements to earn and retain their licenses. In addition, the cost to become a licensed nurse in Arkansas differs from the cost in other states.

  • 1. Choose the Path That's Right for You

    Those hoping to become an RN must earn at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN), though some pursue bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or master's degrees in nursing (MSN) programs in Arkansas. Finally, those hoping to earn their doctorates and teach at the college level can earn doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees.
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    Nursing schools in Arkansas require coursework in physiology, anatomy, nutrition, and behavioral science. Aspiring 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 take 2-3 years. The curriculum also mandates that students must attend clinicals to practice in-person patient care.
  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    Graduates of nursing schools in Arkansas must pass the NCLEX to 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 prepare with study aids like NCLEX practice guides and flashcards. Earning a license offers nurses greater flexibility when deciding where they want to work.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Arkansas

Nursing students can pursue lucrative job opportunities focusing on different patient populations. Across the nursing field, professionals must meet educational criteria, and pursuing an online degree in nursing can provide them with the skills, knowledge, and background they need to pursue their desired career path.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Arkansas?

Specific courses and curricula differ among colleges and universities. Students also focus on different topics depending on their degree level, with learners at the associate level focusing on building a foundation of nursing knowledge, advancing their skills and knowledge in the field as they progress through more advanced degrees. In the section below, readers can learn more about common undergraduate courses offered in online nursing programs in Arkansas.

Pharmacology in Nursing

Degree-seekers in this course learn to understand the use of therapeutic drugs across healthcare settings, exploring client education, nursing assessment, and safety measures regarding drug therapy.

Forensic Nursing

Focused on helping students build a foundation of forensic nursing skills, this course teaches degree-seekers how to collect and preserve evidence while managing forensic patients.

Clinical Pathophysiology

In this course, learners review the connections between general biological sciences and their clinical application, focusing on disease manifestations and normal physiology along with the related mechanisms.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

Online nursing programs in Arkansas differ in program structure and degree level across colleges and universities. Most programs feature entirely online coursework, but they might require students to complete a specific amount of in-person clinical requirements, depending on the degree type.

Admission requirements align with those for on-campus students, typically requesting official transcripts, a minimum GPA, an active RN license, and letters of recommendation, among other supplemental materials. Many learners pursue their nursing degrees from online formats since the flexible formats allow them to continue working as they pursue their degrees.

Graduates of online programs earn the same degree as learners who complete their requirements on-campus. Typically, degree-seekers pursuing online programs follow the same curriculum requirements taught by the same instructors as on-campus students.

Nursing Licensure in Arkansas

The Arkansas Board of Nursing regulates licensure across disciplines and ensures that all licensed nurses in the state demonstrate the competencies and skills necessary to provide the highest quality of patient care. Prospective nurses in the state can seek licensure as CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and NPs.

State requirements for licenses vary among nursing types to include different educational criteria, clinical hour guidelines, exam components, and renewal processes. The section that follows allows readers to explore the different requirements across licensing types.

NPs in Arkansas experience reduced practice authority, in which the state practice and licensure laws restrict them from conducting at least one element of standard NP practice. Because of this reduced practice, NPs in the state must hold career-long collaborative agreements with other health providers to provide patient care.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

In the table below, readers can explore the different requirements for each type of nursing licensure in Arkansas, including education, exam, renewal, clinical hours, and continuing education aspects.

Certified Nurse Assistant To become a CNA in Arkansas, individuals must begin by completing a board-approved CNA training program, satisfying at least 90 credit hours of education and training. Candidates who complete their training program in another state but do not earn licensure in that state can pursue licensure by examination in Arkansas if their training meets that board's standards. Candidates who complete home health aide programs comprising at least 75 credit hours and meeting the federal guidelines can complete the examination for CNA certification without completing an additional CNA training program. In Arkansas, CNA candidates must complete the nursing assistant competency exam. The exam includes a knowledge section and a skills assessment. Candidates can complete the knowledge portion orally or through a written format. During the application process, CNA candidates must complete an application, pay the associated fees, and provide their test scores along with official transcripts. Applicants should note their work experience and any other licenses they hold in the field.

Arkansas Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Board-approved training program
  • Additional Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Exams: Nursing assistant competency exam
  • Renewal Frequency: Every other year
  • Continuing Education: N/A
Licensed Practical Nurse Individuals interested in providing nursing services across settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics can consider earning their LPN licenses. Many LPNs work in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, carrying out an array of job responsibilities. To obtain an LPN license, individuals must first complete an LPN program, usually taking about a year to complete. Graduates of LPN programs must hold either a diploma or a certificate in the discipline. Throughout their coursework, students prepare to complete the NCLEX-PN exam after graduation. Once candidates complete their educational requirements, they must pass the NCLEX-PN exam. After passing the exam, candidates can submit their licensing application to the nursing board for review.

Arkansas Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Board-approved LPN program
  • Additional Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Exams: NCLEX-PN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years on the last day of the nurse's birth month
  • Continuing Education: Five continuing education hours in pharmacology during the licensing period
Registered Nurse RNs can typically find work in hospitals within different units. RN candidates must complete the necessary educational criteria before they can obtain licensure, following one of two pathways. To become licensed, candidates must complete either an ADN or BSN. Candidates pursuing ADNs usually satisfy their program requirements within two years of full-time study, allowing them to obtain licensure sooner than those that follow the bachelor's degree path, which often takes candidates four years to complete. Although both degree types qualify graduates for RN licensure, many hospitals prefer to hire RNs with bachelor's-level education. After completing the educational component, candidates must complete and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Once they pass their exam, individuals can submit their licensing application.

Arkansas Licensure Requirements

  • Education: ADN or BSN
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every other year on the last day of the licensed nurse's birth month
  • Continuing Education: 15 continuing education hours during every two year renewal period
Nurse Practitioner NPs can pursue many lucrative career opportunities in Arkansas. These nurses can pursue more specialized roles in the field, which offer higher salary opportunities. Before nurses can obtain their NP licenses, they must hold active, current RN licenses. Each prospective NP must complete a graduate degree in nursing. Typically, these candidates earn MSNs, with many colleges and universities allowing them to complete an NP specialization. Some candidates choose to pursue DNPs to earn the most advanced degree in the discipline. After satisfying education criteria, NP candidates must obtain national certification in their chosen area of specialty. NP candidates do not need to complete an examination to obtain licensure.

Arkansas Licensure Requirements

  • Education: MSN or DNP
  • Additional Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Exams: None; but must obtain national certification in a specific specialty area
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years, coinciding with RN renewal
  • Continuing Education: 20 hours of continuing education hours every two years

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Arkansas FAQ

What Nursing Field Makes the Most Money? Nursing professionals can pursue many lucrative job opportunities. Nurses interested in entering the field that makes the most money can consider roles as nurse anesthetists, who earned a median annual wage of $167,950 in 2018.
How Should I Choose What Nursing Field to Go Into? When deciding on a nursing field, students should determine the level of education they want to complete and the patient population that interests them the most.
Does an Online Nursing Degree Have the Same Value as an On-Campus Degree? Many online nursing programs offer the same courses and instructors as on-campus counterparts, providing online students with the same quality of education as on-campus learners.
How Long Does it Take to Get an RN License in Arkansas? RN candidates who pursue ADNs can obtain their RN licenses within two years, while those who focus on BSNs take about four years to earn their licenses.
Is Arkansas a Nurse Compact State? Arkansas belongs to the nurse licensure compact (NLC). LPNs and RNs residing in the state can practice virtually in another state belonging to the NLC without obtaining additional licensure.

Arkansas Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

Graduates of nursing programs in Arkansas can consider different career opportunities depending on their education level. Readers should keep in mind that salary and job growth information can depend on several factors, and holding a certain degree or educational background does not guarantee them a specific salary or employment opportunity.

In the section below, aspiring professionals can learn more about the annual mean wage amounts and projected job growth rates across NP, RN, LPN, and CNA roles in Arkansas, along with comparisons to neighboring states and the entire country.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Arkansas, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $25,770 18.3%
Licensed Practical Nurse $39,570 13.6%
Registered Nurse $60,780 15.7%
Nurse Practitioner $104,300 37.3%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
United States $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
Louisiana $22,750 $39,480 $63,970 $105,340
Texas $27,030 $46,990 $72,890 $111,060
Oklahoma $25,690 $41,260 $63,080 $103,280
Missouri $25,930 $42,580 $65,130 $102,470
Tennessee $26,400 $40,120 $61,320 $95,990
Mississippi $23,100 $37,930 $58,490 $109,700

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant

In Arkansas, CNAs earned lower annual mean wages in 2018 than the nearby states of Tennessee, Texas, and Missouri, reporting a figure of $25,770. BLS data indicates a projected job growth of 18.3% from 2016-2026, which is much faster than the average growth for all occupations in the U.S. CNAs can pursue the highest salary amounts in the scientific research and development services industry.

Licensed Practical Nurse

With a 2018 annual mean wage of $39,570, LPNs in Arkansas also enjoy a projected job growth rate of 13.6% from 2016-2026. The nursing care facilities industry boasts the highest employment levels and highest concentration of jobs for the occupation, while the junior colleges industry features the highest salary opportunities for LPNs. These professionals can also pursue high salary opportunities in nearby states such as Texas and Missouri.

Registered Nurse

RNs in Arkansas earned an annual mean wage of $60,780 in 2018, with BLS data indicating a projected job growth rate of 15.7% from 2016-2026, much faster than the average for all occupations in the United States. RNs can pursue the highest salary opportunities for the occupation in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry. The general medical and surgical hospitals industry features the highest concentration of jobs and employment levels for RNs.

Nurse Practitioner

NPs in Arkansas earned a mean annual wage of $104,300 in 2018. BLS data indicates an extremely fast projected job growth rate of 37.3% from 2016-2026. Physician's offices provide the highest employment levels and concentration of jobs for NPs, while personal care services offer the highest salary opportunities.

Nursing Resources for Arkansas

  • As the only professional organization that represents all RNs in Arkansas, this organization aims to advance and promote the nursing profession across disciplines.
  • Dedicated to connecting, supporting, and educating NPs in Arkansas, the association promotes and advocates for excellence in practice and the highest quality of nursing care.
  • The ASBN develops standards to approve nursing schools and programs, ensure safe nursing care, and regulate nursing licenses across disciplines to ensure that all nurses practice at the highest quality of care.
  • This association aims to promote, advance, and improve the school nursing profession through professional development and organizational unity. ASNA provides leadership and resources to members.
  • By representing and supporting nursing students in Arkansas, this association promotes high-quality healthcare and professional development opportunities. ANSA focuses on supporting students preparing for initial licensure as RNs.

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