Nurse Practitioners: An Overview
A Nurse practitioner (NP) is a career that was created, in the 1960’s, to address a shortage of qualified physicians. NP’s are registered nurses, who go through advanced training and certification, which may or may not include obtaining a master science of nursing degree. They are capable of meeting most patients’ needs, providing primary and acute care.
According to the Mayo Clinic, nurse practitioners can perform 60 to 80 percent of preventative and primary care, a fact which will keep this occupation in high demand as the need for medical care around the world continues to grow.
Nurse Practitioners vs. Physician Assistants
People often mistake a nurse practitioner for a physician assistant and vice versa, probably because they perform very similar job functions. They both provide care, teaching and even prescription writing for patients in a variety of settings. While their jobs are similar, their training is very different.
A physician assistant will usually need to have masters degree and will be trained in the traditional medical model, including at least 15 months of clinical training. Nurse practitioners focus more on experience; the average NP has ten years of nursing experience before even attempting to become a nurse practitioner. From there, they may go on to get their master science of nursing degree or other certifications as required by their state.
Arkansas Nurse Practitioners at a Glance
Here are a few good things to know about nurse practitioners in the state of Arkansas:
- In 2011, there were 2,704 nurse practitioners in Arkansas, which puts the state near the middle of U.S. rankings for the number of nurse practitioners (27th overall).
- The base salary for an Arkansas nurse practitioner in 2011 was $87,653.
- Nurse practitioners in Arkansas are licensed by The Arkansas State Board of Nursing (501-686-2700).
- To apply for NP licensure in Arkansas, you must have a current, unencumbered RN license from Arkansas or a compact state of which you are a permanent resident. Current compact states (states that participate in the National Nurse License compact) include Wisconsin, Idaho, Kentucky, Utah, Maine, Arizona, Rhode Island, Colorado, Delaware, New Mexico, Maryland, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Virginia, Texas, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
- To become a nurse practitioner in Arkansas, you must choose a post-baccalaureate program in advanced nursing approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. These programs may include a master science of nursing degree. The program must include coursework in advanced pharmacology, physiology/pathophysiology and advanced health assessment.
- If you want to have prescriptive authority as an Arkansas nurse practitioner, you will need to get a Certificate of Prescriptive Authority by completing 3 graduate credit hours of pharmacology, or 45 contact hours in a pharmacology course. You must also log a minimum of 300 hours of a preceptorship that involved prescribing drugs, medicines and therapeutic devices under the supervision of a qualified preceptor.
- Nurse practitioners in Arkansas must be certified through one of the following agencies:
- After completing the necessary requirements, potential nurse practitioners in Arkansas must complete an Advanced Practice Nurse Licensure Application, a criminal background check and, if prescriptive authority is sought, and an application for a Certificate of Prescriptive Authority. They must also submit a Quality Assurance Plan to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.
Outlook for Nurse Practitioners in Arkansas
- Advanced practice nursing licensure in Arkansas increased by 26% between 2009 and 2011.
- Arkansas, like many other states, is suffering from a nursing shortage.
- According to reports, an estimated 5,000 nursing positions will need to be filled by 2015.
Nurse practitioners have become a vital part of the overall health care strategy for most medical institutions. An Arkansas nurse practitioner can expect to be in high demand and make an exceptionally good salary, even though they need to complete a number of certifications and collect a wealth of experience in nursing to qualify for the job.