Choosing an LPN Program in Arkansas

There are multiple practical nursing programs in Arkansas and just one essential criteria for program selection: state approval. A prospective nurse is required to complete an accredited or approved progra, in most cases, at least. (The Arkansas Board does allow health practitioners who have completed LPTN programs to test as LPNs.)

Otherwise one should make sure that an in-state program appears on the list on the Board site (http://www.arsbn.org/nursing-programs). Programs are offered by community colleges, universities, technical institutes, and healthcare facilities. They can be quite varied. Here is a guide for selection.

Test Scores and Other Quality Indicators

All graduates must pass an additional hurdle: the NCLEX-PN. The Board posts pass rates for the previous five years (https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/arkansas-board-of-nursing). The state average has been over 90% five years running – well above the national average. Some programs consistently post pass rates well in the 90s – if not 100%. Pass rates can be viewed as one program quality indicator.

Retention rates and job placement rates may also be considered. The goal is that most students are completing the program and then securing jobs in the field.

Admission Requirements

Arkansas schools tend to favor selective admission over wait listing. Requirements vary from school to school. Tests are a common requirement, but could be anything from the Kaplan to the ACT. Some schools award credit for prior coursework. Healthcare certification is sometimes considered.

Articulation Options

Nursing has a well-defined career ladder: progressing from LPN to RN and eventually to BSN or even advanced practice.

While not critical, it may be worth considering how easy it will be to transfer credits to an associate or baccalaureate program later. Some schools have opted to participate in the Arkansas Nursing Articulation Model. An LPN will be able to transfer at least six semester hours into an associate level program. At least five will transfer to a BSN program.

The Arkansas Rural Nursing Education Consortium makes it easier for working nurses in rural areas of the state to earn an RN license. It doesn’t matter which school the LPN was educated in so long as it was a state approved program (http://www.arnec.org/).

Advanced Competencies

Another consideration: whether the program offers training in advanced competencies. An LPN who is interested in performing IV therapy will need to make sure training meets state standards (http://www.arsbn.org/nursing-programs-iv-therapy-guidelines)

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Financial Considerations

Arkansas programs vary greatly in cost, but there are a number of programs in the $6,000 to $12,000 range. There are financial resources available. Nursing students, like other undergraduates, can receive Pell grants if they meet eligibility criteria (http://www.atu.edu/academics/catalog-ozark/stusvcs.html). These do not need repayment. Stafford loans are also readily available, but require repayment.

Some prospective LPNs. may be eligible for loan scholarships through the Faith A. Fields Nursing Scholarship Loan program (http://www.arsbn.org/loans-scholarships) Students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) report and document financial aid for each year they receive money. A recipient will need to work one year as an Arkansas nurse. If all obligations are met, the money will not need to be repaid. In the event one doesn’t meet obligations, they will need to repay the loan with interest.

Eventually practical nursing can become a lucrative career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average salary of $35,300 for LPNs in Arkansas. Experience is a factor, so the average LPN will start out lower.

During difficult economic times, it can be hard to secure that first job. Students may want to compare gainful employment data across schools – while schools are not mandated to publish job placement rates, some choose to make this data available.

Resources

LPN License Requirements in Arkansas

Career Overview: Becoming an LPN in Arkansas

Arkansas State Board of Nursing http://www.arsbn.org/

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