Becoming a Nurse in Arkansas
You need a certain level of education to become a nurse in Arkansas. The required form of nursing education differs based on what type of nurse you hope to be. For example, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) must complete a short diploma program, but an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) needs either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Once you have the right education, it's time to take the appropriate National Council Licensure Examinations (NCLEX) for your level. You can apply for a license through the Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN) once you pass the exam.
As in many states, job prospects are good for nurses in the Natural State because Arkansas is short of nurses and other qualified healthcare professionals. This means that jobs may be relatively easy to find but you might work long hours in less-than-ideal conditions to support the employer.
Read on to learn about licensing requirements for different levels of nursing in Arkansas.
To learn about online nursing programs and requirements in other states, explore our list of accredited nursing degrees by state below:
Nursing Degrees by State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
How To Get Certified Nurse Aide Certification in Arkansas
A certified nurse aide (CNA) plays an important role in healthcare by meeting the basic daily needs of patients. A CNA works under the supervision of an LPN or registered nurse (RN) to assist patients when bathing, dressing, and eating. They also reposition patients, prepare rooms for admissions, and dress wounds.
Becoming a CNA required a state certification. The Arkansas Department of Human Services oversees the CNA training programs and the certification process. Graduating from a state-approved CNA training program is the first step to becoming a CNA. These training programs are offered at various community colleges, rehabilitation centers, and technical centers throughout the area. Completing a total of at least 90 hours is required: 30 hours of classroom and laboratory training, 45 hours of clinical training, and 15 hours of Alzheimer's and dementia training.
Passing a nursing aide competency exam is the final step to receiving an Arkansas CNA license. The state requires applicants to pass the exam within one year of completing CNA training and within three attempts. After three failed attempts, the applicant will have to go through the CNA training again and retake the test.
Certification is valid for two years. To maintain certification, the individual must work as a paid CNA for at least eight hours during the 24 months preceding the certification period.
How To Get a Licensed Practical Nurse License in Arkansas
An LPN fulfills many vital roles in a healthcare setting, such as transferring patients, changing bandages, and inserting catheters. There are two routes to becoming an becoming an LPN in Arkansas: licensure by exam or licensure by endorsement. In both cases, candidates must graduate from an ASBN-approved training program. Community colleges, technical institutes, and healthcare facilities most often offer these programs.
Candidates for licensure by exam must pass the NCLEX-PN after graduating. This test evaluates an individual's knowledge in safe and effective care, health promotion and maintenance, psychiatric health and diseases, infectious disease, and care across the lifespan. After taking the NCLEX, applicants must also undergo a criminal background check.
Licensure by endorsement requires a candidate to hold an active LPN license from another state. They must submit proof of education and licensure in their state and undergo a criminal background check. Arkansas is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which makes it easier for nurses in member states to earn licensure in fellow compact states.
Arkansas LPN licenses expire every two years on the licensee's birthday. Prior to each renewal, LPNs must complete at least 15 contact hours of appropriately accredited practice-focused activities or study.
How To Get a Registered Nurse License in Arkansas
RNs work closely with physicians and a multidisciplinary team of professionals to provide the highest quality care to patients with a range of illnesses. RNs juggle many responsibilities, from performing ongoing patient health assessments and administering medications to providing psychological and emotional support to patients and family members.
A license is necessary to practice as an RN in this state. As with LPNs, RNs can earn their licenses by exam or through endorsement from another state's nursing board.
In either case, the process starts with graduating from an accredited school of nursing with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Exam licensees must then pass the NCLEX-RN exam in Arkansas, while endorsement license candidates must prove that they passed it in another state by submitting their active license. After this, both sets of applicants must complete a criminal background check.
RN licenses must be renewed every two years. This requires completing at least 15 hours of continuing education.
How To Get an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse License in Arkansas
RNs interested in furthering their career may consider becoming an APRN. An APRN holds an advanced nursing degree and has hundreds of hours of work experience as an RN.
Individuals must hold an active RN license to be eligible to apply for license by exam or by endorsement in Arkansas. After completing a graduate degree, an aspiring APRN needs to make sure that they hold a national nursing certification in a specialty. The Arkansas State Board of Nursing recognizes the following APN specialties:
Certified nurse midwife (CNM)
Certified nurse practitioner (ANP)
Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
Independent national agencies grant nursing certifications. The ASBN honors certifications from several dozen of these professional groups, including the following:
- American Nurses Credentialing Center
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
- American Midwifery Certification Board
- National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists
The final step for APRN candidates is submitting fingerprints for a criminal background check and sending other information (sealed transcripts, verification of RN license, etc.) to the ASBN.
APRN licenses must be renewed every two years, and at least 15 contact hours of accredited practice-focused continuing education activities must be completed for renewal. APRNs should contact the appropriate certification agency regarding continuing education requirements for their specialty certification.
OnlineU has several resources of interest to APRNs, including a 2023 Best Online Nurse Practitioner Degree Programs page, a guide on How To Become a Nurse Anesthetist, and a Guide to Online Nurse Practitioner Degrees.
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