If you want to have a positive effect on health care in Arkansas, you may want to look into earning a Master's degree in nursing. Nursing schools in Arkansas can prepare you for careers in advanced practice, nursing education, nursing research, or nurse leadership. Whether you currently have an Associate's degree or Bachelor's degree in nursing, an MSN may help you take your career to the next level.
Arkansas needs MSN-prepared advanced practice nurses, nurse educators and nurse administrators, just like most other states in the nation. Educated nurses are needed throughout the state, but particularly in Arkansas' many medically underserved counties. If you would like to help improve access to and quality of nursing care in Arkansas, you can do so by expanding your education. Have a look at all of the options for MSN degrees in the state below, then request information from the schools that interest you most.
Curriculum for Nursing Schools in Arkansas
In most cases, earning a Master's of Science in Nursing in Arkansas requires a Bachelor's degree in nursing. Some schools allow you to earn an MSN with an unrelated Bachelor's degree. The state also has some RN to MSN programs that permit you to work towards a Master's degree while using your Associate's degree to gain experience. In general, Master's programs included 30 to 50 credits. You may graduate in about two years while attending full-time or four years while attending part-time.
Regardless of which specialty you choose, you may need to complete a set of core courses before beginning your specialty classes. These courses may include Advanced Principles of Nursing, Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, and Professional Aspects of Nursing. From there, you may study your specialty. Common specialties in Arkansas include nurse education, medical-surgical nursing, nursing administration, and nurse practitioner.
It's important to adequately prepare for nursing programs in Arkansas, since a graduate program can be a rigorous educational experience. Many schools prefer to accept applicants that are currently working in the nursing field, since working as a nurse can keep your skills and knowledge sharp. You may also wish to study your NCLEX review material, since some programs have entrance exams. Consider working as a nurse during school; this experience can prove valuable when you begin your search for an advanced nursing position.
As an MSN nursing student, you may qualify for a number of schoolwide and statewide scholarships. The Arkansas State Board of Nursing offers a number of loan repayment and scholarship programs, including the Nurse Faculty Loan Repayment Program and the faith A. Field Nursing Scholarship. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences runs the Arkansas Graduate Nursing Education Student Loan and Scholarship Program. Some employers offer scholarships to employees that are continuing their education. For example, Baptist Health awards numerous nursing scholarships.
Careers for Master's Prepared Nurses in Arkansas
Advanced nursing practice may be a great way to use an MSN in Arkansas. Nurse practitioners, who offer a variety of primary care services to patients, have slightly restricted practice rights in this state. However, the Arkansas Action Coalition is working to increase practice rights for advanced practice nurses. There is currently a primary care shortage in Arkansas, particularly in rural areas. Nurse practitioners can help alleviate this shortage.
Many of the largest employers in Arkansas are medical employers, according to Discover Arkansas. Some of the top places for growth in this state are nursing care facilities, hospitals, and medical offices. These places may be hiring more nurses, including advanced practice nurses, in years to come. A recent research study out of this state shows that there's a higher rate of patient satisfaction when primary nursing care is used.
Earning a Master's degree in nursing may improve your career prospects and earning potential. O*Net reports that nursing instructors earn an average salary of $54,200 per year. The average annual salary for a nurse practitioner is $89,500 per year (O*Net, 2013). Nurse anesthetists earn a median income of $136,000 per year (O*Net, 2013).
Because the need for healthcare providers is especially great in rural counties, the University of Arkansas for Medical Services connects qualified professionals with communities in need. It also provides continuing education on the topic of rural healthcare.
Other professional organizations for MSN-prepared nurses in Arkansas include the Arkansas Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the Arkansas Nurses Association.
MSN programs for Arkansas nurses include:
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The MSN programs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences prepare graduates to work as nurse practitioners, nurse educators or nurse administrators. An MSN degree also lays the foundation for a PhD degree, often the terminal degree for nurse educators. Students who attend part-time have up to six years to complete their degree.
- Arkansas State University. Arkansas State provides MSN-preparation for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, nurse educators and nurse educators. MSN students interested in community health may want to complete the graduate certificate in disaster health.