The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has the only College of Nursing in the state to rank among the nation's 100 best undergraduate nursing programs for the 2023-24 academic year in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings.
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program was tied for 86th out of 656 programs examined by the publication. Last year, it was tied for 67th out of 681 programs.
"It's an honor to be recognized as one of the top-performing BSN programs in the nation," Patricia Cowan, registered nurse and dean of the College of Nursing, said in a news release from UAMS. "This ranking reflects the quality and the hard work of our students and faculty."
Rankings were determined through surveys from top academic and nursing school officials, who rated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs they were familiar with on a scale, and schools were required to have a bachelor's-level accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, as well as to have recently awarded at least 40 Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, according to UAMS.
The UAMS College of Nursing graduated 101 students from its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program during the 2022-23 academic year, and 5,641 students have earned their undergraduate degrees since the program's inception.
"I'm really proud of our program, [which] has strong faculty, students and curriculum," UAMS Provost Stephanie Gardner said Wednesday. Nursing "is an absolutely terrific career path for students today, because there are a tremendous number of jobs available, but also so many ways to differentiate yourself with levels of training."
The College of Nursing was established in 1953, and students can also earn a Master of Nursing Science degree, a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Nursing.
UAMS is the state's only academic medical center -- Arkansas is one of eight states with a sole academic medical center -- and 70% of health care professionals in the state trained at UAMS, according to UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson. UAMS annually ranks first or second nationally among academic medical centers in terms of retaining its graduates within its state.
Arkansans who study at UAMS tend to remain in the state for their work, Gardner echoed. "They stay where they go to school and train."
For example, 100% of this May's 84 Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates are licensed in Arkansas, Cowan said.
Through its nursing program, UAMS fills workforce needs in the state, including for the health care the medical center provides for patients, Gardner said. "We're limited in beds we can open by limits in staff," so when more nurses are available to work, UAMS is able to treat more patients.
Arkansas is roughly 9,000 nurses short of meeting care demand in the state, according to a report released earlier this year that was commissioned by the Arkansas Hospital Association. The report, compiled by GlobalData PLC -- a data analytics and consulting company headquartered in London -- noted demand for registered nurses is expected to grow by roughly 8% by 2035, "primarily driven by the projected increase in Arkansas's eldest population age groups."
Hospitals staffed with 80% Bachelor of Science in Nursing-prepared nurses had nearly 25% lower odds of inpatient mortality compared with those with only 30% Bachelor of Science in Nursing-prepared nurses, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing-prepared nurses have abilities that benefit patients and health care providers, demonstrated by 24% greater odds of survival among patients who experienced in-hospital cardiac arrest, 10% lower odds of death in patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and a 32% decrease in surgical mortality cases in hospitals that increased their proportion of Bachelor of Science in Nursing-prepared nurses over time.