Q & A With the Arkansas State Board of Nursing Regarding APRN practice in Arkansas

Q: How does an APRN obtain a license to practice in the state of Arkansas?

A: All applicants must:

  • Hold an unencumbered RN license
  • Complete a nationally accredited APRN educational program
  • Be nationally certified by an accrediting body approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN)
  • The APRN’s certification must be in the area of educational preparation and the APRN program must have had a minimum of 500 hours of supervised clinical practice
  • Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licensure shall be designated in one of the four roles:
  • Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

          AND at least one population focus:

  • Family/Individual Across the Lifespan
  • Adult-Gerontology
  • Neonatal
  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s Health/Gender-Related
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health
Q: What degree does an APRN have?
A:  Since the mid-1990s, graduate level education (master’s or doctorate) has been a requirement in order for a graduate to sit for national certification as an APRN.  Over the past decade, the movement toward the Doctor of Nursing Practice has been robust. Many APRNs now hold a doctorate, but it is not a requirement for licensure as an APRN.
Q: How does the ASBN determine that an APRN educational program has met the all requirements to prepare APRNs for licensure and practice?

A: ASBN Rules Chapter 4, Section III A.2. States the nursing education program is accredited by a nursing accrediting body that is recognized by the U. S. Secretary of Education and /or Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), as acceptable by the Board.

ASBN Rules, Chapter 4, Section X1 Nursing Education Programs.

  1. The education program for advanced practice nursing shall meet the nursing accrediting body standards for advanced practice registered nursing.  
  2. The curriculum plan for advanced practice registered nursing shall include:  
    1. Preparation in one of the four identified APRN roles (CRNA, CNM, CNS, and CNP); and   
    2. Preparation in at least one of the approved population foci:   
      1. Family/Individual across the Lifespan
      2. Adult-Gerontology
      3. Neonatal
      4. Pediatrics
      5. Women’s Health/Gender-Related
      6. Psychiatric/Mental Health; and
    3. Three separate graduate level courses (the APRN Core):
      1. Advanced physiology and pathophysiology     
      2. Advanced health assessment
      3. Advanced pharmacology
  3. Clinical Experiences
    1. All graduate or post-graduate programs leading to advanced practice licensure shall have a minimum of 500 supervised clinical hours in direct clinical practice during the program.  
    2. APRN programs preparing for two population foci shall have a minimum of 500 supervised clinical hours for each population focus.
    3. Clinical supervision must be congruent with current national professional organizations and nursing accrediting body standards applicable to the APRN role and population focus.
    4. Student clinical experiences shall be congruent with the population focus of the role.

If the program of study does not meet the above criteria, the Arkansas Board of Nursing does not license the applicant.  In 2008, a national working group comprised of 48 nursing organizations issued a document known as the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification, and Education (L.A.C.E).  The model addresses all four of these major components and brought standardization across the U.S. to credentialing of APRNs.  The document is linked here: https://www.ncsbn.org/Consensus_Model_Report.pdf

Q: How does the ASBN determine if an applicant APRN for licensure has graduated from an approved program of study?

A: The applicant for an initial APRN license must present an official transcript (sent directly to the board by the educational program) which shows the appropriate degree posted from a nationally accredited APRN educational program.   

A national accrediting body must be recognized by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and the Board has a list of all accreditation bodies which have met standards as set forth by U. S. Secretary of Education and /or Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

The accreditation process for APRN programs is very rigorous and they send a visiting team of APRN faculty from another part of the US to examine the educational program.  This process takes 2 to 3 days, and includes site visits to students during their clinical experiences as well close examination of the curriculum.

Q: How does the Board determine what national certifications will be accepted?

A: The Board has an approved list of certification bodies.  The criteria for review includes:

  • National in scope,
  • Issues certification based upon passing an examination,
  • Examination is based on a practice analysis,
  • Certification is time limited,
  • Provides for periodic recertification via examination or CE requirements, and
  • Maintains a list and provides verification of certified individuals.
Q: What chapter discusses what APRN educational programs must provide, in order for a new graduate to get licensed in AR?

A: ASBN Rules Chapter Four comprises the Rules for APRN practice.

  • Section I is Scope of Practice,
  • Section II is Qualifications for Licensure,
  • Section III is Licensure.
Q: Which APRNs are deemed prepared to provide primary care if primary care provider (PCP) status was given

A: Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNP)
Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP)
Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioners (AGNP)

FNPs, PNPs and AGNPs provide primary care across lifespan, for children and for adults/older adults, respectively. Therefore, they would be appropriately prepared to be PCPs for their respective populations.

Q: May Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) obtain prescriptive authority?

A: Yes, a CNS may qualify for prescriptive authority if he/she meets all the requirements and has taken the “3 P” courses: pathophysiology, pharmacology, and physical assessment.  

The specialties for the CNS are:

  • Psych Mental Health – Child & Adolescent
  • Psych Mental Health – Adult
  • Community Health
  • Med/Surg
  • Acute CC – Adult
  • Gerontology
  • Pediatric

The same rules apply to them – certification must match education and they are limited in practice setting to specialty. (See ASBN Rules, Chapter 4, Section II, D.)