How Can I Become a Nurse Practitioner in Arkansas?
Since nurses first started offering assistance to medical doctors hundreds of years ago, their role in healthcare has constantly evolved to meet the needs of the population.
Nurse practitioners, who provide both acute and primary care, demonstrate strong clinical decision-making skills, the ability to work with patients independently, and a thorough base of knowledge that is relevant to the people they serve.
Selecting the right type of degree is a major factor in your school choice. Master's degree programs tend to be the shorter option, building on your undergraduate education and providing valuable clinical experience.
Below is an overview of Arkansas Master’s level NP programs:
• Credit hours required: 35 to 45 credit hours
• Average tuition rate: $5,600 per semester, with differences in tuition rates for residents and non-residents
• Clinical hours required: At least 500; possibly more, depending on specialty
• Timeframe: 2 to 2.5 years
Your other nurse practitioner degree option is a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degree. This option requires quite a bit more time in school and far more clinical work. It also provides experience in research and postsecondary teaching.
Average Arkansas DNP program requirements include:
• Credit hours required: 30 to 40 credits beyond the Master's degree
• Clinical hours required: At least 1000
• Timeframe: Approximately three years
Arkansas nursing schools are listed below. Use this list of schools to get more information on degree options and find out if a nurse practitioner degree is the right choice for you.
What Types of Nurse Practitioner Programs Are Available in Arkansas?
In the field of registered nursing, it is all about diversity. Even if you work in a specialized area of nursing, you must be ready and willing to work with patients of other needs and backgrounds. If you become a nurse practitioner, you need to focus your education and clinical work in one area of practice. Arkansas programs allow you to specialize in fields like family primary care, gerontology, adult care, pediatric care, and family psychiatric & mental health.
Admissions requirements for doctoral and graduate programs are slightly different. If you want to earn a doctorate degree, you may need to prove your ability to complete graduate-level work by first earning a Master's degree. Programs at both levels often expect at least one year of full-time nursing experience, a strong academic background, and referrals from reputable instructors and healthcare professionals.
Comparing required courses can help you differentiate between family nurse practitioner programs and programs that focus on other areas of care.
Courses that may be required at this level of Nurse Practitioner education include:
• Research Design and Methodology
• Theory Development in Nursing
• Health Care Issues and Policy
• Professional Role Development in Advanced Nursing
• Advanced Clinical Physiology
• Advanced Clinical Pharmacology
• Advanced Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation
Doctoral programs may go into greater detail in various areas of study. Your curriculum may include courses similar to those listed above, but they may also delve into research, leadership, and advanced clinical skills.
Upon selecting a school, take some time to get familiar with its learning outcomes. Learning outcomes detail the ways in which you should grow as a nurse and which competencies you should have by the time you reach graduation.
Learning goals may focus on advanced nursing knowledge and theories, complex health issues and diagnoses, quality improvement strategies, leadership in healthcare, evidence-based clinical services, and established clinical expertise.
How Can I Pay for Nurse Practitioner School in Arkansas?
Financial aid and tuition expenses are often primary factors in school choice. You may be especially cautious of expensive schools if you are already carrying student debt from your first nursing degree. However, programs that offer financial aid to students in the form of scholarships, grants, and loan repayment may reduce your expenses.
A handful of Nurse Practitioner scholarship programs in Arkansas can be found below:
• Arkansas Nurses Association: This statewide organization awards scholarships to nurses at all level of studies, with several scholarships awarded exclusively to graduate students. This includes the Dorothea Fund Scholarship and the Mary Gray Scholarship.
•BestNursingDegree.com scholarships: By applying for our scholarship program, you may qualify for one of our $2500 nursing scholarships.
• NURSE Corps Scholarship Program: This federal program exchanges sizable scholarships for two years of service in a Health Professional Shortage Area.
• NHSC Loan Repayment Program: This program, similar to the NURSE Corps Scholarship Program, expects students to commit to a two-year service period. On top of your regular compensation, you may have up to $50,000 of student loans forgiven.
Licensing and Practice Requirements for NPs in AR
Once you finish your nurse practitioner schooling, you can apply for an advanced license through theArkansas State Board of Nursing. They require official transcripts from your graduate program and national certification in your chosen area of specialty.
If you want to be able to prescribe medications, you must apply for prescriptive authority separately. According to theAmerican Association of Nurse Practitioners, nurse practitioners in Arkansas do have some practice restrictions.
Before you can see patients in AR, you must have a collaboration agreement with a licensed physician.
Nurse Practitioner Careers in Arkansas
Furthering your education may increase your income potential, particularly as you build a patient base and gain experience in primary or acute care. Currently, nurse practitioners in Arkansas earn an average of $93,870 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics;, 2016).
The job outlook in the state is positive, due to the growing demands of the healthcare industry and the national need for primary care providers. According to O*Net, demand for nurse practitioners may increase 31% in Arkansas through 2022 (2016).
A nurse practitioner license may allow you to work in many different areas of healthcare. If you plan on taking advantage of a state or federal loan repayment program, you may be limited to approved clinics and hospitals in specific geographic areas. You can look into options at private clinics, urgent care centers, large healthcare organizations, and specialty clinics.
Everyone deserves to have local, prompt access to healthcare. Nurse practitioners can do a lot to alleviate the healthcare practitioner shortage and offer evidence-based care to patients.