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Steps to Becoming an APN in Arkansas

arkansas nursing

Get your Graduate Degree in Arkansas
Earn your National Certification in Arkansas
Apply for your APN License in Arkansas
Renewing your License in Arkansas


The Arkansas State Board of Nursing (501-686-2700) grants advanced practice nurse (APN) licensure to licensed RNs who meet the necessary qualifications.

Four categories of advanced practice nurses may become licensed in Arkansas: Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

Before you can apply for APN licensure in Arkansas, you must hold a current, unencumbered Arkansas RN license, or an RN license from a compact state in which you reside permanently. States that have adopted the national Nurse License Compact include Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Arkansas Job Statistics

  • 2011 base salary for NPs in AR: $87,653
  • September of 2006, Arkansas State Board of Nursing adds pronouncement of death to APN and RN scope of practice
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate in Arkansas: 87.7%
  • APN licensure in Arkansas increased by 26% between 2009 and 2011
  • If you hold an RN license in a compact state, do not apply for Arkansas RN licensure unless you plan to move to Arkansas and list the state as your primary, permanent residence
  • If you hold an RN license in another state, you may apply for Arkansas RN licensure by endorsement via the Endorsement Application
  • If you have never held an RN license in Arkansas or any other state, apply for Arkansas RN licensure via the Examination Application
  • If your Arkansas RN license is currently expired, you may reinstate it by contacting the Arkansas State Board of Nursing at 501-686-2700 and requesting the proper form.

If you wish to become an APN in Arkansas, follow these steps:


Step 1. Get Your Graduate Degree

*If you’re an RN interested in entering advanced practice and becoming a nurse practitioner, earning a Master of Science in Nursing is your best option.

The online Master of Science in Nursing through Georgetown University’s School of Nursing & Health Studies allows you to tailor your education to one of four population specific roles: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

Simmons School of Nursing offers currently licensed RNs an opportunity to earn their MSN-Family Nurses Practitioner through one of two online degree options:

Nursing@USC — the Master of Science in Nursing program from the University of Southern California School of Social Work — is preparing a new kind of family nurse practitioner (FNP) who will address both the biomedical and social factors affecting patient health. Through a first-of-its-kind integration of nursing and social work education, the program trains FNPs to deliver care across the life span in a variety of primary care settings.

Eligible applicants are registered nurses who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and at least one year of clinical experience.

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing approves graduate programs preparing advanced practice nurse candidates for licensure. You must choose a Board-approved post-baccalaureate program in advanced nursing if you wish to apply for APN licensure in Arkansas.

Qualified Graduate Programs

You must choose a graduate-level advanced nursing program approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and by an agency registered with the United States Department of Education (USDE)  and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

All programs must meet the standards listed in the Arkansas State Board of Nursing Rules, Chapter 6. If your graduate program is not included on the Board’s pre-approved list, you may request its approval in accordance with the process described in Chapter 6.

Course Requirements

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing maintains that you must graduate from an organized program of nursing education that prepares you for the

advanced practice role you intend to take on (ANP, CNM, CRNA or CNS).

Coursework must include advanced physiology/pathophysiology,  advanced health assessment, and  advanced pharmacology.

Prescriptive Authority

If you are certified as an ANP in Arkansas, you may elect to pursue prescriptive authority. In order to receive a Certificate of Prescriptive Authority, you must have completed 3 graduate credit hours of pharmacology, or 45 contact hours of continuing education in a pharmacology course.

Additionally, you must have logged at least 300 hours of a preceptorship that involved prescribing drugs, therapeutic devices, and medicines, under the supervision of a qualified preceptor.

Specialization for ANPs and CSNs

As a clinical nurse specialist or advanced nurse practitioner in Arkansas, you will specialize in a specific population focus area.

Approved specialty certification areas for Arkansas ANPs are Acute Care NP, Adult NP, Adult Psychiatric and Mental Health NP, Family NP, Family Psychiatric and Mental Health NP, Gerontological NP, Pediatric NP, Neonatal NP, and Women’s Health Care NP.

Specializations approved for CNS candidates in Arkansas are Acute/Critical Care CNS – Adult, Acute/Critical Care CNS-Neonatal, CNS in an Adult Health Setting, CNS in Adult Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, CNS in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, CNS in Gerontological Nursing, and CNS in Pediatric Nursing.


Step 2. Earn Your National Certification

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing recognizes four categories of APNs. You must become nationally certified in a category or subspecialty before you may practice in Arkansas.

You may become nationally certified in one or more areas as an APN practicing in Arkansas.

Advanced Nursing Designation Options

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing recognizes the following APN titles:

  • Nurse practitioner (ANP)
  • Certified nurse-midwife (CNM)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)

Certification Programs

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing honors national certification granted by these agencies:


Step 3. Apply for Your APN License

Under federal law, you must include your US social security number on your APN application. If you do not have a social security number listed on the application, the Arkansas State Board of Nursing will reject it. Contact the Board at 501-686-2700 for more information.

For all titles of APN licensure, you must complete the Advanced Practice Nurse Licensure Application. You must mail the completed application, fee of $100 (via personal check, money order, cashier’s check or credit card) to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. The following documents must also be provided:

  • Verification of your current RN license in Arkansas or a compact state (this may be done online via www.nursys.com).
  • Official sealed college transcript verifying completion of the appropriate APN program sent directly from your graduate institution to the Board
  • Verification of current national certification sent directly from the national certification agency (the form for this is included in the application packet – fill it out and forward it to your national certification agency, who will return it to the Board)
  • Fingerprints for criminal background check (see below)
  • Advanced Practice Verification Form (included in application packet) if you are currently licensed as an APN in another state
  • Application for Prescriptive Authority if desired (see below)

All the above items should be sent to Arkansas State Board of Nursing, University Tower Building, 1123 South University, Suite 800, Little Rock, AR 72204.

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing will not issue you a paper APN license once your application is approved. Licensure status may be verified online at the ASBN Registry Search.

Criminal History Background Check

As part of your APN application, you must complete a criminal history background check.  Instructions and a form are included within the application packet. Call the Arkansas State Board of Nursing to request a fingerprint card, which you may take to your local police station or sheriff’s office to be fingerprinted.

Submit the completed and notarized Arkansas State Police Form along with a fee of $38.50 payable to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and the completed fingerprint card. Your APN licensure will not be granted until your background check has cleared.

Application for Prescriptive Authority

Once you become a licensed APN, you may apply for a Certificate of Prescriptive Authority. Submit it, along with proof of your pharmacology education, 300 hours of preceptorial experience in prescribing drugs, and a collaborative practice agreement (included in application packet) with a licensed Arkansas physician whose scope of practice or specialty is similar to yours.

You must also submit to the Board a Quality Assurance Plan and a fee of $150. If you wish to prescribe controlled substances, you must contact the New Orleans office of the DEA after receiving prescriptive authority. They will send you an application for a DEA registration number. Call the New Orleans DEA office at 888-514-7302 or 888-514-8051.


Step 4. Renewing Your License

You may renew your APN license online along with your RN license every two years.  It may be renewed up to 60 days before its expiration date (which is the last day of your birth month).

Because paper copies of license are no longer issued, you may check the status of your license renewal online at ASBN Registry Search. Employers and potential patients may also look up your licensure information here.

Continuing Education

Under rules of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, you must complete 15 practice-focused contact hours of continuing education (CE) every two years to maintain your APN and RN licensure. This may be accomplished by fulfilling requirements for maintaining your national certification. Contact your certification agency for details on fulfilling CE requirements.

If you have prescriptive authority, you must also complete 5 contact hours of pharmacotherapy related to your specialized certification every two years. You need not submit proof of contact hours to the Board, but must keep documentation in case it is requested.

License Renewal Notice

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing no longer sends out paper renewal notices. Postcard renewal reminders are sent to your last address on record. You may renew your license 60 days prior to its expiration date. Pay renewal fees online via credit or debit card or electronic check. It costs $40 to renew your APN license, and $75 to renew your RN license.

You must also submit proof of your national certification, which is to be sent directly from the certifying agency.

Expired License Renewal Application

If you do not renew your license by midnight of the expiration date, it is considered expired. If your license has been expired for less than five years, you may renew it online as long as you have fulfilled all CE requirements during that time. You will also be expected to complete an additional 5 hours of CE, and pay a $100 late fee in addition to the renewal fee.

If your license has been expired for longer than five years, you must have completed 20 hours of practice-focused contact hours within the past two years, or provide current national certification. You must also take a Board-approved refresher course. Submit a request in writing to the Board for a paper renewal application.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Associations in Arkansas

As an APN licensed to practice in Arkansas, you might consider joining one of the following professional APN organizations:

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