ARNEC Receives Approval to Increase Students

The Arkansas Rural Nursing Education Consortium has announced the recent approval from the State Board of Nursing to increase acceptance for 16 additional students and with current applications, they plan to accept 26 additional students, program-wide. This larger class will begin January 2014.

“ARNEC has already exceeded the number of applications from last year, so we feel it is vital to increase student acceptance in 2014,” said Crystal Gillihan, ARNEC Director. “Our students are very successful. They are employed quickly after graduation in both acute care and long-term care settings. Many of our students chose to further their education and are gaining acceptance into BSN programs. ARNEC is a vital piece to rural education and rural health care in Arkansas.”

The program is fully approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, and the eight colleges that comprise the consortium have graduated approximately 225 students each year from the program, prior to the increase. The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton is part of the consortium and admits up to 48 students each January. These students earn an associate registered nursing degree and are then eligible to take the NCLEX-RN, the examination a student must pass in order to receive his or her nursing license. The most recent NCLEX-RN pass rate for the consortium is 92.2%. The participating colleges in addition to UACCM are Arkansas State University – Newport, Black River Technical College – Pocahontas, Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas – Nashville Campus, Ozarka College – Melbourne, Rich Mountain Community College – Mena, South Arkansas Community College – El Dorado, and University of Arkansas Community College at Hope. Students from these colleges receive their education via compressed video, which allows students and instructors to interact real time.

“The ARNEC program has thoroughly prepared me for my career as a registered nurse. As a result of that experience, I was quickly able to move into a challenging and rewarding position as Director of Nursing at Eaglecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center,” said Brent Tyson, ARNEC graduate, class of 2011.

The consortium recently established agreements with Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia and Arkansas Tech University in Russellville for graduates of the ARNEC program to transfer to their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree programs.

“These memorandums of agreement will allow ARNEC students to seamlessly transition into BSN programs to further their education after meeting admission requirements,” said Gillihan. “ARNEC is also in the process of establishing memorandums of agreements with other colleges in the state, including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. These actions are in line with the Institute of Medicines recommendation that 80% of nurses should hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020.”

ARNEC graduate Regina Keelin earned her BSN and is now in the process of completing her master’s degree. “After completion of the ARNEC program, I was able to easily transition into the BSN program at Arkansas Tech University,” said Keelin. “I appreciate the efforts of ARNEC and the BSN programs working together so that all of my coursework transferred.”

Student applications for the program can be submitted online and obtained from the consortium’s website: Applications are due by Aug. 31 for the class beginning in January 2014. The website also has details and a complete description of the application process, requirements and program contacts.


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