How to Become a Nurse Administrator in Arkansas

Nurse Administrators play an important role in coordinating the workflow under their supervision. They oversee nurses and other healthcare workers and are responsible for hiring, training and performance reviews. A nurse administrator may supervise just a few nurses or multiple units. Nurse administrators do not work directly with patients, but their work affects the patient’s experience and organizational outcomes.

Nurse Administrators should have a strong business background, solid time management skills, excellent communication and extensive medical background. Nurse administrators hold a high level of responsibility, and with that comes a fairly long journey to obtaining their credentials.

What is Required to Become a Nurse Administrator in Arkansas?

The first step is to complete your high school education or obtain your GED. Once that has been done, students must complete a more specific course of post-secondary study. Many nurse administrators begin their careers as registered nurse practitioners, and there are several paths to becoming an RN.

  • Obtain your bachelor of science in nursing, a four-year program that will prepare you for graduate school. This is the most common method.
  • Complete a nursing bridge program, a more flexible option available to those working in non-RN nursing roles or as nurse aides. The common bridges are certified nursing aides (CAN) to RN and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) to RN.
  • Earn your licensure through examination. The six-hour National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is an adaptive exam that costs $200 to sit. Once students have passed or failed a certain number of questions, the exam ends.

Becoming a registered nurse takes approximately four years, depending on your chosen route. Additionally, practicing requires new graduates to sit and pass the NCLEX exam offered through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

The next step is to attend graduate school. Many nurses will obtain their Master of Science in nursing, health administration, or a Doctor of Nursing Practice. These programs take two to three years to complete, and nurses must have a certain amount of working experience before applying to graduate school. The work experience is best acquired by working as a registered nurse. It can take a minimum of six years to become a nurse administrator.

After graduating, many will choose to add specialty credentials to their arsenal. These credentials are not a requirement but will assist administrators in obtaining higher-level administrative, and executive positions and some employers may require or request certification. Some of these credentials include:

  • Certified Executive Nurse Practitioner (CENP)
  • Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC)
  • Nurse Executive Advanced Certification (NEA-BC)
  • Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC)
  • Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML)

Nursing Administrator Schools in Arkansas

Bearing in mind the time and financial commitment undertaken to become a nurse administrator, you should carefully consider which institution will best meet your career goals. The following four schools offer both master’s and post-graduate level certificates.

1. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Located in Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, the institution is a public health sciences university established in 1879. The programs offered through the College of Nursing prepare people for advanced practice, research, teaching and administrative roles.

The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and offers students the ability to specialize in Nursing Administration, Nursing Education or Case Management. Students will leave the program skilled in conflict resolution, communication, financial management, team building, personal development, employee management, critical situation analysis, risk management and nursing informatics.

Students spend a minimum of 17 hours a week with top-tier nursing executives at major health institutions, where they experience a range of administration, management and leadership duties. With the addition of two more courses, students may complete the Nurse Education program.

Students must have completed at least 2000 working hours as an RN and have a minimum 2.85 GPA based on the last 60 hours of undergraduate studies. They must have achieved at least a C grade in a basic statistics course and completed a continuing education approved health assessment course. Students may be required to submit an essay and be interviewed for admission.

2. Arkansas State University

Located in the city of Jonesboro in the Northeastern corner of Arkansas, the University is a public research institution founded in 1909. The University offers students several options at both the graduate and post-graduate levels.

Master of Science – Students can choose several specializations, including Nurse Administrator and Nurse Educator. The administrator concentration prepares students in healthcare law and quality assurance, leadership and management and budgeting/financial management in healthcare. The educator concentration fosters skills in curriculum development, measurement/evaluation in education and teaching/learning strategies. Both streams are available online and must be completed within six years.

To be eligible, students must hold an active RN license, have obtained a bachelor of science in nursing accredited by the ACEN or CCNE, at least a 3.0 GPA from undergraduate course work, official transcripts to be submitted, and passing scores from the NCLEX-RN by the end of the first semester.

Nursing Administrator Certificate – This program is completed over 15-18 credit hours and provides in-depth knowledge of human resources, finance, IT, business strategy and many more topics related to operations within a complex healthcare environment. The program can be completed in conjunction with the Master of Science program or as a post-graduate option.

To be considered for the program, students must hold a Master of Science in Nursing accredited by the ACEN or CCNE unless completing the program concurrently, possess an active license to practice nursing, have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be CPR certified.

3. Arkansas Technical University

Located in the city of Russellville, the seat of Pope County, the school is a public university founded in 1910. The College of Natural and Health Sciences offers students a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Nursing Administration and Emergency Management.

The program may be completed in person or online and uses a multidisciplinary approach to acquiring skills in the areas of research design and methods, epidemiology, theoretical perspectives, current trends in health care, legal and ethical issues, nurse administrator role, fiscal management, principles of hazards and emergency management, design and management of preparedness in mitigation systems and research thesis/project. Students must complete 39 credit hours, 30 hours of core competencies, six hours in research methods, three to six hours in research thesis/project application and nine hours in either nursing administration or emergency management.

To be admitted, applicants must meet the following:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree accredited by the CCNE and ACEN
  • Have a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 30 hours of undergraduate study
  • Possess a current active RN license free of past disciplinary action, completion of three general statistics courses at a minimum C level
  • Have submitted official transcripts and have MSN admissions committee approval

4. University of Arkansas

Located in Fayetteville, the second largest city in Arkansas, the school is a public land-grant research university founded in 1871. Through the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, students have the opportunity to complete their Master of Science in Nursing entirely online.

The program targets those interested in becoming nurse educators and prepares graduates in areas including but not limited to:

  • Policy development, cost-effective care delivery and resource management
  • Promoting a value-based professional practice through legal and ethical principles
  • Decision-making based on theories from nursing and other disciplines
  • Educational leadership in clinical and academic settings
  • Patient advocacy and evaluation of quality healthcare
  • Promoting evidence-based practice through the critique of research findings and problem identification

The program takes approximately four semesters plus one summer semester to complete through full-time studies. Students can study part-time but must complete the program within six consecutive calendar years.

To be eligible, candidates must hold an unencumbered RN license, have completed a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from a nationally accredited institution, complete one statistics course with at least a C grade and a basic health assessment course, and submit official transcripts. Students may be expected to submit two reference letters and participate in an interview. Applications are accepted throughout the year.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Nurse administrators are needed in all areas of healthcare, but larger urban areas will have more opportunities than rural areas. Nurse administrators often work in hospitals but may find employment in healthcare clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, nursing schools, and even consulting firms.

Medical health services managers, including healthcare administrators and healthcare executives, can expect a bright outlook. With the aging American population, skilled nurses and those that guide them will continue to be in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field is expected to grow by 32% from 2020 – 2030. Arkansas specifically has the third highest concentration of professionals working in the field.

Regarding salary, nurse administrators in Arkansas can expect to make an average of $44.28 per hour or $99.110 per year. Little Rock-North and Little Rock-Conway rank third in the BLS’s top ten list for the highest concentration of employed nurse administrators.