In Arkansas, there are several routes to licensure. LPNs and RNs may be licensed by examination or by endorsement (provided they already hold a license elsewhere). Individuals who have some training in a nursing discipline sometimes opt for a practical nursing license by equivalency.
Arkansas is a nurse compact state and has been since the year 2,000. That means that LPNs and RNs whose primary residence (and licensing) is in another compact state may practice in Arkansas without obtaining a new license.
There are several resources for nurses and prospective nurses. The Arkansas State Board of Nursing issues licenses. The Arkansas Nurses Association (http://www.arna.org/) can be a valuable professional development resource.
Nursing students may wish to join the Arkansas Nursing Students' Association (http://www.arknursingstudents.com/). There are a number of awards and recognitions granted to nursing students; monetary amounts are generally small and can't be relied on to fund one's education.
There is some state funding, though, available for prospective nurses. The Faith A. Fields Nursing Scholarship Loan funds some RN candidates who would struggle to cover costs otherwise. It is important to realize is that a nurse who satisfactorily completes education requirements and fulfills the practice education will never need to repay the money, but failure to do so will result in significant financial obligation.
Testing is a part of the licensure process. In 2012, Arkansas practical nurses had an 88.13% NCLEX pass rate (compared to 83.9% for the nation as a whole). The NCLEX pass rate for RNs was 87% (compared to 88.9% for the nation).
The Arkansas pass rate is slightly lower for graduates of associate’s programs (85.3%) than for graduates of BSN or diploma programs (88.9% and 88.8%, respectively).
Practical nursing candidates should begin by enrolling in an approved program. Learn more about criteria you will want to consider as well as find a list of Arkansas Board of Nursing approved LPN programs by reading "Choosing an LPN program in Arkansas." As the LPN students near completion, they may take steps toward licensure. The application can be made online (http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/forms/Pages/default.aspx). Candidates will also need to register with Pearson to take the NCLEX-PN exam (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex/).
All candidates for licensure must have a criminal background check. The procedures are different depending on whether the applicant is enrolled in an Arkansas program when the process is initiated. Those who are go through their school.
The application fee for an LPN applying by exam is $75 (http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/licensing/Pages/fees.aspx). This is separate from the testing fee.
Some candidates work under a temporary license briefly while they’re going through the testing process.
The state has transitioned away from the use of wallet cards/ traditional licenses. License status can be verified through the ASBN Registry Search at www.arsbn.org.
Nurses can become LPNs by equivalency. There are several pathways, but all involve nursing education. In most cases, this means completing at least part of the coursework at a higher level: RN. Candidates who are applying by partial completion must have completed the coursework referenced in the application packet (http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/forms/Documents/PN_EquivalencyPacket.pdf).
Nurses who complete registered nursing programs but fail the NCLEX-RN exam are also eligible for licensure by equivalency.
The final pathway is through education and credentialing as a Licensed Psychiatric Technician Nurse. Candidates must have completed a board-approved LPTN program.
Equivalency candidates who have not had a criminal background check in the prior 12 months will need to do so.
Candidates for PN by equivalency must also take and pass the NCLEX-PN level examination. The code used in the Pearson application will depend on the pathway utilized.
Application by equivalency is a $75 process.
Arkansas will license LPNs by endorsement whether they have completed board approved LPN programs in their home states or been licensed by equivalency. (The LPTN pathway, though, is only eligible to endorsement candidates from California or Kansas.)
Out-of-state candidates may work under a temporary permit while going through the endorsement process. The permit is issued electronically; LPNs can verify their legal status through the ASBN Registry.
Candidates who have been practicing less than five years will need to document that in the preceding year, they have either practiced for 1,000 hours or graduated from a program. Otherwise, they will need to take an approved refresher course.
Candidates who were educated in other countries are eligible for licensure provided their transcripts indicate similar education. There are several evaluation agencies to choose from.
Licenses may be denied on the basis of disciplinary history or criminal background.
Candidates may apply online unless their education was in another country (http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/licensing/Pages/endorsement.aspx). They will have the opportunity to pay fees electronically and submit a request for a fingerprint card. Fingerprints will be submitted to the Arkansas State Police Department; it is important that they be submitted on the correct card.
The first step is completion of an approved nursing program. The approval agency or board does not necessarily have to be Arkansas, though in most cases it will be. Excelsior graduates are eligible for RN licensure as are graduates of foreign programs -- so long as their education is judged to be substantially equivalent. Click Here to learn more about choosing an appropriate RN program in Arkansas.
Students may begin the application process when they're in the final two months of their program (http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/licensing/Pages/examination.aspx). The application may be completed online (https://www.ark.org/bon/licensure/index.php). The RN application is $75; a temporary permit costs an additional $25. Fees can be paid online using an eCheck or credit card. Applicants using an eCheck will need bank routing number as well as account number.
Candidates must also register with the company that administers the licensing exam: Pearson VUE (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex/). The application process cannot be completed until this step is taken.
If an applicant for RN has previously been licensed as an LPN, some documentation may already be on file. The applicant must have a new background check, though, if it has been longer than a year. The Arkansas Board of Nursing provides a checklist to guide candidates through the process (http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/forms/Documents/Licensure%20Examination%20Checklist.pdf). However, it is important to verify that the information is up to date.
An applicant may work under a temporary permit while waiting to take the licensing exam for the first time -- it is good for a maximum of 90 days. The applicant may not work under a temporary permit, though, if the application is under review because of issues revealed in the background check. Arkansas requires that applicants disclose all convictions, including juvenile ones. However, not all will result in denial of licensure. (The nurse practice act includes a list of offenses that will automatically bar a person from licensure.)
Candidates who have been authorized to test may schedule the exam at their own convenience. In Arkansas, the test is given on an ongoing basis in Fort Smith, Little Rock, and Texarkana. However, the candidate also has the option of taking the exam at a Pearson Center in another state.
A candidate who fails an attempt must wait 45 days before retaking. Arkansas does not place a limit on exam retakes. It is also an option to make the next attempt at a lower level and become an LPN.
Candidates may check the status of their application online (https://www.ark.org/bon/licensure/status.php).
RNs licensed in other states may apply for licensure by endorsement. If a nurse has not been in active practice for 5+ years, the candidate will need to document continuing competency. This can be done by verifying either 1,000 hours of practice in the preceding year or a recent graduation. If a candidate can not verify competency through any pathway acceptable to the Board, the candidate will need to take a refresher course (http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/licensing/Pages/endorsement.aspx).
Internationally educated nurses will need to have educational equivalency determined. Generally speaking, all applicants must pass the NCLEX-RN. Some older Canadian nurses may qualify by having taken the NLN State Board Test Pool Examination. However, in Arkansas, this exception applies only to those who took the exam in 1970 or earlier.
Internationally educated candidates must use a paper application (http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/discipline/Documents/International%20packet.pdf). Application information can be found in the packet.
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