According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are approximately 44,500 nurses working in the state of Arkansas. Despite that number, however, Arkansas is already experiencing a shortage of nurses. As of 2015, Arkansas was facing a shortage of 24 percent, with that number expected to increase to 34 percent by 2020, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. One of the reasons for this anticipated shortfall is the retirement of many current nurses.
The following page outlines the initial licensure requirements and renewal process for registered nurses and advanced practice nurses specifically in Arkansas. Read on to learn what you'll need to do in order to practice nursing in the state and to explore the different nursing schools in Arkansas that can help you meet your career goals.
- Top Nursing Schools in Arkansas
- Search Nursing Schools
- State Licensing Requirements
- Nursing by the Numbers
- Resources & Associations
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Top Nursing Schools in Arkansas
BEST 4-YEAR NURSING SCHOOLS
The top nursing programs listed in this state's ranking were determined by comparison of three primary, equally-weighted criteria including
- Student-to-faculty ration
- In-state tuition
- Graduation rate
Additional details for each school were included:
- Count of programs available
- Public and not-for-profit schools
- Normalized on a 100 percent curve
The methodology used for tie-break is as follows...
- Ties are broken based on lowest average net price for full-time, first-time undergraduates paying in-state tuition (average cost of tuition and expenses after grants and scholarships).
- If necessary, the lowest in-state tuition rate is used as a second tie-break
Explore Arkansas Nursing Schools
For those interested in becoming a nurse, there are several different nursing schools in Arkansas, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, to help individuals achieve their goals. The search tool below can help aspiring nurses vet academic options and find the right Arkansas nursing school.
Understanding Nursing Licensure in Arkansas
Arkansas requires all nurses to be licensed before practicing, including registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, licensed practical nurses and psychiatric technician nurses. Just as with other states, Arkansas has its own unique requirements for nurse licensure. According to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN), the following are the eligibility requirements for becoming a nurse, renewing a nursing license and/or becoming a licensed APRN.
- Graduate from an approved nursing program with a minimum of an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Complete an initial licensure application (usually done online)
- Pass a criminal background check
- Register and pay for the appropriate National Council Licensure Exam for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN)
- Successfully pass the NCLEX-RN exam
- Complete a fingerprint card and INA Search ID for criminal background check
- Make payment of applicable licensure application fees
- Possess a valid social security number
- Possess a physical mailing address and valid e-mail address
- Obtain verification of completion of an approved nursing program
- Have an official transcript sent directly from one's nursing school to the ASBN
- If licensed in another state, nurses can become licensed in Arkansas through the licensure endorsement process
Renewing an RN License in AR
Licenses may be renewed up to 60 days before expiration
Make payment of appropriate renewal and late fees, if applicable
Complete requisite continuing education requirements, which includes: either 15 hours of accredited practice-oriented activities, nationally recognized certification or recertification, or completion of at least one college credit hour in nursing with a C grade or better
Licenses must be renewed every other year
Renewal cannot be done online if:
- The license has been expired for more than five years
- The applicant has been a convicted of a crime
- The primary state of residence is Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, or any “compact” state other than Arkansas
Licensure Requirements for Arkansas APRNs
Even though most nurses in Arkansas are RNs or LPNs, there are many advanced practice nurses who work in specialized areas. These APRNs are subject to additional licensing standards, such as:
- Hold a current Arkansas RN license or an RN license from a compact state
- Completion of an accredited advanced nursing practice master's or doctorate level program
- Verification of nursing certification sent directly to the ASBN
- Prescriptive authority must be applied for separately, following issuance of APRN license
Additional information concerning licensure for APRNs in Arkansas can be found on the ASBN website.
Nursing by the Numbers in Arkansas
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the registered nursing profession is expected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024. This is more than twice as fast as the national average for all occupations. The following tables illustrate wages for those working in the state of Arkansas.
Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Arkansas
|Area||Hourly Median Wage||Annual Median Wage|
|Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway||$28.73||$59,760|
|South Arkansas nonmetropolitan area||$26.05||$54,170|
|Fort Smith AR-OK||$25.95||$53,970|
|West Arkansas nonmetropolitan area||$25.16||$52,320|
|East Arkansas nonmetropolitan area||$24.19||$50,320|
|Central Arkansas nonmetropolitan area||$23.72||$49,330|
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
Arkansas vs. National Numbers
Resources & Associations for Arkansas Nurses
The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) is the premier professional organization for psychiatric and mental health nurses in the United States. Their Arkansas branch has the goals of promoting the psychiatric and mental health nursing profession within Arkansas, including dissemination of nursing research and facilitating the networking of mental health and psychiatric nurses.
The interests of nurse practitioners in Arkansas are promoted and protected by the Arkansas Nurse Practitioner Association (ANPA). The ANPA promotes high standards for nurse practitioners in Arkansas and lobbies on behalf of nurse practitioners at all levels of Arkansas government.
The Arkansas Nurses Association (ARNA) is the sole professional organization in Arkansas that represents all registered nurses. The ARNA helps registered nurses by looking out for and promoting the professional and physical well-being of all nurses who practice in Arkansas.
The Arkansas School Nurses Association (ASNA) advocates on behalf of those in the nurse education profession. The ASNA aims to ensure quality nursing education is delivered to students, as well as improve the status of nursing education in Arkansas.
The Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN) is responsible for setting the standards for all licensed nurses in the state of Arkansas. The ASBN also handles nursing discipline for violations of nursing guidelines and rules.Little Rock Black Nurses Association of Arkansas
The Little Rock Black Nurses Association (LRBNAA) is a non-profit organization with the goal of promoting and helping meet the health care needs of blacks and other minorities in Arkansas. The LRBNAA also works to reduce racial disparities in both health care and the Arkansas nursing profession.