Arkansas RN Requirements and Training Programs

Like the rest of the nation, Arkansas’ demand for professional nurses exceeds the rate of nurse graduates from community colleges and universities. In spite of the calls for the nursing workforce to be educated at the bachelor’s degree or higher, almost 68 percent of the registered nurses within the state are community college grads. There’s a reported rise in enrollment for first-time nurses in bachelor’s degree programs, but there’s no slowing down in the pace of enrollment in the associate’s degree in nursing program.

The widely documented nationwide nursing shortage is just as worrying in Arkansas. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there were 38,370 licensed registered nurses in Arkansas in 2015. A national public health group projects a massive shortage of nurses over the next decade in response to growth in the senior population and a shortage of faculty at nursing schools. The need for nurses to fill vacant positions in hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities influences hiring practices, so even associate degree nurses are able to secure positions in hospitals – a feat that is not so simple in many states.

Nurse graduates look forward to good salaries, great benefits and flexible hours, but the shortage of staff can lead to long and burdensome shifts. Thus, striving for a higher level of education beyond the associate’s degree will lead to a better job outlook. In the meantime, the ADN program supports quick entry into nursing and helps to relieve the current shortage. The goal should be to enter the field with an associate’s degree and pursue the advanced degree later on.

Arkansas Nursing Programs

Education Requirements

The Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing (ADN) prepares students to apply for the NCLEX-RN and to practice as a Registered Nurse. Graduates have the knowledge skills and competencies to provide patient care at an entry-level. The program also prepares those wishing to pursue further education to do so based on the foundational structure that the curriculum provides.

The program covers the skills, knowledge and competencies students need to become an efficient nurse. Instruction will take place in the classroom, simulation labs, outpatient facilities, major hospitals, and other health care facilities. The curriculum will require students to complete at least 65 credit hours including liberal arts, sciences, and core nursing courses. Areas of study include health promotion across lifespan, adult nursing, essential nursing skills, pediatric nursing, mental health nursing, and competency for entry into practice.

Enroll in a program that is approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. It should also be accredited by a national accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). If the nursing school has established partnerships with other colleges and universities, it will prove beneficial if you plan to complete your BSN through an RN to BSN program.

Eligibility Criteria

In your consideration of nursing school, you should keep in mind the commitment that accompanies enrollment. Students may attend classes 30 to 40 hours a week plus dedicate another 20 to 30 hours for study and assignments. The clinical time must all be taken into account. Check the proximity of the clinical location to your home – would you be able to get to and from the clinical site easily? The mandatory clinical experience requires that you obtain criminal background clearance and a drug screen. You will not obtain a license to practice from the ASBN if you committed or pled guilty to nolo contendere to certain crimes. A TB test, physical exam and submission of immunization record are some other requirements for admission.

Enrollment in a nursing program is a competitive process so you should seek to meet or exceed the admission requirements.

General entry requirements include:

  • Meet the requirements for admission to the college.
  • Schedule and attend a mandatory information session, which will provide information on the expectations for the program.
  • Submit a completed application before the program deadline.
  • Submit an official high school transcript and transcripts of all college courses.
  • Earn a grade C or above in all the prerequisite courses.
  • Complete the TEAS-VI exam, which evaluates your math, reading, English, and science skills.

Duration and Cost

To complete the associate of science degree in nursing in Arkansas, you can expect to spend approximately $5,800 if you are an in-district student. Other common expenses for nursing students include textbooks, uniforms, shoes, clinical equipment, liability insurance, background check, TB skin test, urine drug screen, health insurance, CPR certification, physical exam, and standardized exams. Financial aid is available for qualifying students.

Arkansas RN Licensure Requirements

As a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, the Arkansas State Board of Nursing accepts applications for licensure from individuals who live in Arkansas, a non-compact state, or country outside the U.S. Applicants must provide proof of residency with the application.

The ASBN also requires all applicants to submit a criminal background check. If you pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to or committed any offence listed in ACA 17-87 312, you will not be eligible for licensure as a registered nurse in Arkansas. Applicants may request a waiver of eligibility in certain circumstances.

The costs associated with the background check are the applicant’s responsibility. Information for completing the check is included in the online application process. Applicants must complete the ASBN-provided fingerprint card and submit to the Arkansas State Police.

Licensure By Examination

To apply for licensure by exam use the following guidelines:

  • Submit your online application two months prior to your graduation date.
  • You must provide a physical and mailing address to receive communications from the Board. A valid email address is also required to receive confirmation of the your submission and the payment receipt.
  • Pay the application fee of $100 during the online process. The Board accepts payment made by e-check or credit card. Print the payment summary and keep for your records.
  • Locate the INA Search ID on the payment summary and print in the corner of the fingerprint card in the box marked “FBI Leave Blank.” Mail the completed fingerprint card with the INA Search ID to Arkansas State Police Criminal Background Check – 1 State Police Plaza Drive Little Rock, AR 72209
  • Register with Pearson VUE before submitting the application to the ASBN – the Board cannot process your application until you’ve registered with Pearson VUE.
  • Request verification of your graduation from the nursing director. If you completed an in-state program, the school can use secure electronic verification. Out-of-state graduates must use the Verification form within the online system.
  • Submit official transcripts of your nursing education. The program should send the transcript directly to the ASBN and indicate the degree posted.
  • If you answer “yes” to any of the background questions on the examination application or return a positive criminal background check, you must submit a letter of explanation and certified copy of all records. You will not be eligible for a temporary permit or authorization to take the NCLEX until the ASBN reviews and clears your case.

Registering with Pearson VUE.

  • Review the NCLEX candidate bulletin to understand the steps involved in applying for the licensure exam.
  • Register with Pearson Vue before you graduate from the program.
  • Provide your social security to avoid delays in the ASBN application process.
  • Pay the registration fee directly to the testing vendor. See the Candidate Bulletin for instructions.

After the ASBN reviews your application and deems you eligible to test, Pearson Vue will send the Authorization to Test via the email to the address you provided during registration.

The initial license is free. Once the ASBN approves your licensure, you will receive a one-time plastic license card – it should be your primary source of verification. You can verify the status of your licensure through the ASBN Registry Search.

Temporary Permit

Requesting a temporary permit:

  • Check the designated box on the application for licensure.
  • Pay the additional $25 fee – it will be added to the amount due at the end of the submission.

Temporary permits are available within 90 days of completing your nursing program. The Board will not issue the permit until you’ve registered with Pearson Vue and received criminal background clearance.

The ASBN will not mail out a permit. However, you can verify your status through the Registry Search. A temporary permit is valid for 90 days or until the exam results are available. It cannot be extended or reissued.

Licensure By Endorsement

The ASBN accepts applications for endorsement from RNs who have completed an approved nursing program and passed the NCLEX. Persons who have completed a portion of an RN nursing program and are licensed in another jurisdiction, Canadian RNs licensed by NLN State Board Test Pool Examinations is specific provinces, and internationally educated nurses who completed a nursing program that is comparable to the ASBN’s standards may also apply for licensure by endorsement.

Following are the steps for submitting your application to the ASBN:

  • Submit your online application – instructions are available throughout the online system.
  • You must provide a physical and mailing address to receive communications from the Board. A valid email address is also required to receive confirmation of the your submission and the payment receipt.
  • Pay the application fee of $125 during the online process. The Board accepts payment made by e-check or credit card. Print the payment summary and keep for your records.
  • Locate the INA Search ID on the payment summary and print in the corner of the fingerprint card in the box marked “FBI Leave Blank.” Mail the completed fingerprint card with the INA Search ID to: Arkansas State Police Criminal Background Check – 1 State Police Plaza Drive Little Rock, AR 72209
  • Submit verification of your license to the ASBN. If you’re licensed in a state listed on the NURSYS website, you must obtain verification online. Submit your request through NURSYS. If your state of licensure is not listed on NURSYS, you must print the ASBN verification and submit to the licensing agency in your state to have your license verified. There may be a fee for the service.
  • Submit verification of employment. You must provide evidence of completing at least 1000 hours of practice within the year immediately prior to your application if you have not engaged in practice for 5 or more years. As an alternative to 1000 hours of practice, you may submit documentation of completing an ASBN approved refresher course or completing an approved nursing program within one year of the application date.

Endorsement applicants may be eligible for a temporary permit based on the discretion of the ASBN. The permit allows the applicant to practice while the application is in process and will not be valid for more than 6 months. Temporary permits may not be extended or reissued.

Renewal Requirements

Registered nursing licenses are renewed on a staggered biennial birth date system. Your initial license may be valid for 91 days to 2 years – based on your date of birth. Check for notifications from the ASBN for updates on your renewal. You must complete the continuing education requirements during each two-year period to renew your license. All renewal requests must be submitted online.

Continuing Education Requirements for Arkansas RNs

Registered nurses who hold an active license must complete 15 contact hours of accredited practice-focused activities or complete a minimum of one college credit hour in nursing with a grade C or better prior each biennial renewal. Licensees must maintain a record of meeting the continuing education requirements to present in the event of an audit.

Arkansas Salary and Job Outlook

With more than 3 million strong, nurses make up the largest segment of the U.S. health-care workforce. It is also one of the fastest-growing occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS projects there will be over 1.2 million vacancies for nurses between 2014 and 2022 in response to the demand for health care services from the aging population. More than 80% of the over-65 population suffer from one or more chronic diseases and are in need of long-term care. This combination of age and chronic illnesses drives demand for healthcare professionals.

The nursing workforce is also affected from within. Nurses are also aging. More than 33 percent of the workforce are over 50 and will retire in the next 10 to15 years. As these nurses leave the profession, it will create additional burdens on the system already challenged by the population’s needs. In addition to finding nurses to meet current needs, health care employers must also find replacement nurses for the vacancies left by retired staff.

Nurse graduates obtain employment within months for licensure. The apparent growth in new graduates has not affected the need for more nurses as education programs cannot supply nurses at a rate that exceeds demand. Aspiring nurses often cannot get the training they need to enter the workforce because programs do not have the capacity or sufficient faculty to train the influx of students.

New nurses, especially those with an associate’s degree, are hire for entry-level positions but do not have the equivalent training to fill positions left by nurses who have 20 to 40 years of experience. New nurses must quickly acquire and maintain to serve patients as confidently as those nurses who are on their way out.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 report, registered nurses in Arkansas earned an annual mean wage of $56,870.

Contact the Board of Nursing
Arkansas State Board of Nursing
University Tower Bldg.
1123 South University
Suite 800
Little Rock, AR 72204-1619

Phone: 501-686-2700
Fax: 501-686-2714

Arkansas Registered Nursing Programs and NCLEX-RN Pass Rates:

Batesville, AR ADN programs:
University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville
P. O. Box 3350, Batesville, AR 72503
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 67.0%

Bentonville, AR ADN programs:
Northwest Arkansas Community College
One College Drive, Bentonville, AR 72712
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.8%

Blytheville, AR ADN programs:
Arkansas Northeastern College- Blytheville
2501 South Division Street, Blytheville, AR 72315
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.5%

Forrest City, AR ADN programs:
East Arkansas Community College
1700 New Castle Road, Forrest City, AR 72335
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.0%

Harrison, AR ADN programs:
North Arkansas College
1515 Pioneer Drive, Harrison, AR 72601
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 89.4%

Helena, AR ADN programs:
Phillips Community College
1000 Campus Drive, Helena-West, Helena, AR 72342
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%

Jonesboro, AR ADN programs:
Arkansas State University
2105 Aggie Rd, Jonesboro, AR 72467
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 82.4%

Little Rock, AR ADN programs:
Baptist Health College
11900 Colonel Glenn Rd, Little Rock, AR 72210
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: New Program

University of Arkansas at Little Rock
2801 South University Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72204
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 81.9%

Magnolia, AR ADN programs:
Southern Arkansas University
100 East University, Magnolia, AR 71753-5000
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 65.6%

Malvern, AR ADN programs:
College of the Ouachitas
One College Circle, Malvern, AR 72104
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 76.9%

Monticello, AR ADN programs:
University of Arkansas at Monticello
346 University Drive, Monticello, AR 71656
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 66.6%

Mountain Home, AR ADN programs:
Arkansas State University – Mountain Home
4034 US-62, Mountain Home, AR 72653
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 86.6%

National Park, AR ADN programs:
National Park Community College
101 College Drive, Hot Springs, National Park, AR 71913
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 82.7%

Newport, AR ADN programs:
Arkansas State University – Newport
7648 Victory Boulevard, Newport, AR 72112
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 82.5%

Ozark, AR ADN programs:
Arkansas Tech University – Ozark
1700 Helberg Ln, Ozark, AR 72949
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 81.8%

Pine Bluff, AR ADN programs:
JRMC School of Nursing
1600 W 40th Ave, Pine Bluff, AR 71603
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: New Program

SEARK College
1900 S Hazel St, Pine Bluff, AR 71603
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 59.0%

Crystal is a certified Registered Nurse (RN) with a passion for writing about nursing education. Through her articles, Crystal shares insights and tips to help fellow nurses enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest developments in the field. With a focus on practical advice and relevant topics, Crystal's writing is a valuable resource for nursing professionals seeking to advance their careers.