Nursing Programs in Arkansas

Overview of Arkansas Nursing Schools

The low cost of living and the relatively placid pace of life of the mid-southeast makes Arkansas a destination spot for those who desire to spend their end-of-life years in the beautiful “natural” state. For this reason, home health care nurses and nursing home employees are in high demand, and this status is expected to increase in coming years as the bulk of the baby boomer cohort settles down to retire.

Those who are interested in geriatric or hospital care should consider Arkansas a prime location for gerontology nurses to receive their education and begin a successful practice. Top state schools like Arkansas State University, Henderson State University and Southeast Arkansas College offer a wealth of nursing programs that allow students at all levels to transition smoothly from LPN to RN to BSN while keeping their Arkansas state nursing license.

Outlook for Arkansas Nurses

Although there is an estimated need of approximately 26,000 nursing professionals from every level needed in Arkansas, there are only about 23,000 nurses currently employed. This leaves a deficit of between 3000-4000 nurses needed in big cities like Little Rock and Fayetteville, as well as in the less populated areas like Perryville.

Starting salary averages for RNs in the state round out at $49,000, with similar beginning wages found for CNAs and Psychiatric RNs. The outlook for nurses of any kind, but especially those who are flexible and potentially willing to work in geriatrics, is decisively positive for the few thousand employees who will be needed to fill the gaps in the next five years.

Jobs and Licensing for Arkansas Nurses

While the nursing salary in the state may be average, what sets Arkansas apart from other states are special incentive programs such as the Arkansas Rural Nursing Education Consortium (ARNEC), which assists current LPNs/LVNs by helping them to receive their Associate’s degree and preparing them to take the NCLEX for their RN licensing. Eight community and technical colleges are in this consortium to aid rural Arkansas nurses in advancing their careers even while in remote locations.

As a bonus, RNs at the height of their careers make a significant amount more than LPNs/LVNs earn, with the former at just under $55,000 a year and the latter at around $35,000 a year. While there is no special degree required for geriatric work, many college programs do offer courses in gerontology and end-of-life care, or even a concentration in this special facet of nursing that is particularly useful in Arkansas.

Upon graduation, the Arkansas Nurses Association is one voice that helps prospective employees get matched with jobs to fit their specialty and needs, whether it be administrator at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital or home health caregiver at one of the Baptist Health locations. Licensed nurses will find a supportive community of nurse advocates, continuing education opportunities, licensing exam tips, employee reward programs, and a host of helpful resources through the ANA.

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing is the go-to resource for all licensing procedures within the state. The Board distributes licenses to deserving RN, LPN, LPTN, RNP, and APN candidates who fulfill the examination requirements. They also offer convenient online license renewals, changes, and endorsements, which enable nurses to obtain valid accreditation in jurisdictions other than the one in which they received their original licenses.

Average Salaries for Nurses in Arkansas

Data from BLS 2012 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Registered Nurses $39,660.00 $54,410.00 $74,200.00
Licensed Practical Nurses $26,840.00 $35,050.00 $45,250.00

References:

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Employment Statistics, and Employment Projections http://www.bls.gov/
The American Health Care Association http://www.ahcancal.org/research_data/
Kaiser Family Foundation http://statehealthfacts.org/
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation http://rwjf.org/
Arkansas Gazette Online http://www.arkansasonline.com/
Arkansas State Board of Nursing http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/Pages/default.aspx