How to Become a Nurse in Arkansas

Nursing is a unique field that puts students on the path to a rewarding career working in hospitals, schools, outpatient care facilities, clinics, physicians’ offices and more. Accredited nursing programs in Arkansas prepare students with the tools they need to play a vital role in the healthcare industry. There are more than 51,089 nurses licensed by the Arkansas State Nursing Board. While the number of licensed nurses continues to grow, the demand for nurses is always great. Those considering a career in nursing can expect to earn an average annual salary of $58,810 as an RN, $95,230 as a nurse practitioner (NP) and $38,180 as an LPN. Learn about the requirements for becoming a CNA, LPN, RN, or APRN in Arkansas below.

How to Get Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certification in Arkansas

A CNA plays an important role in healthcare by ensuring that the basic, daily needs of patients are met. Working under the supervision of an RN or LPN, a CNA’s responsibilities include assisting patients when bathing, dressing and eating, as well as repositioning patients, preparing rooms for admissions, dressing wounds, and more.

To work as a CNA, individuals must be certified. The Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Office of Long Term Care (OLTC) 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 (30 hours of classroom and laboratory training, 45 hours of clinical training and 15 hours of Alzheimer and dementia training) is required.

Passing the Nursing Assistant 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 (LPN) License in Arkansas

An LPN fulfills many vital roles in a healthcare setting, from bathing, dressing and transferring patients, to changing bandages, inserting catheters, and more. LPNs work under the direction and supervision of RNs and doctors. The road to receiving an Arkansas LPN license begins with graduating from an accredited LPN program approved by the ASBN. Programs are offered throughout the area at community colleges, universities, technical institutes and healthcare facilities.

Passing the National Council Licensing Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN) examination is another requirement. This test evaluates an individual’s knowledge in several areas, including safe and effective care, health promotion and maintenance, psychiatric health and diseases, infectious disease, and adult, pediatric, and elderly care. Other steps to receiving licensure include providing:

  • Proof of valid social security number
  • Official transcript from a state-approved nursing program
  • Verification of graduation date

Individuals must also undergo a criminal background check.

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.

How to Get a Registered Nurse (RN) License in Arkansas

RNs work in close collaboration 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.

Being licensed by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN) is a requirement to practice as an RN in the state. The process of getting an Arkansas RN license starts with graduating from an accredited school of nursing with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Passing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) is the next step. Licensure examinations are given at Pearson Professional Centers at various locations throughout the area. According to the ASBN, applicants must complete the application process for both ASBN and Pearson VUE to take the NCLEX. A criminal background check is also required prior to taking the examination. FAQs and important information regarding the examination process can be found on the Board’s website.

RN licenses must be renewed every two years. Completing at least 15 hours of appropriately accredited practice-focused continuing education is required for license renewal.

How to Get an Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) License in Arkansas

RNs interested in furthering their career may consider becoming an APRN. An APRN holds an advanced academic degree (master’s degree or higher). Individuals must hold an active RN license to be eligible to hold an active Advanced Practice license. The first step in receiving an Arkansas advanced practice nurse license is attending a graduate-level advanced nursing program approved by the ASBN. Individuals can expect to complete coursework in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology.

The next step is being nationally certified in a category or subspecialty. The Arkansas State Board of Nursing recognizes the following APN specialties:

  • Nurse practitioner (ANP)
  • Certified nurse-midwife (CNM)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)

Certification is granted by independent national agencies; The Arkansas Board honors national certification granted by 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 steps to receiving an Arkansas nursing license in APRN are completing a licensure application, submitting fingerprints for a criminal background check and sending other information (sealed transcripts, verification of RN license, etc.) to the board. Specific information can be found on the board’s website. Individuals can also check their licensure status online.

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. APNs certified in a specialty should be in contact with the appropriate national certification agency for continuing education requirements for recertification.