Nov 03, 2017

Illinois Takes a Step Toward Better Health

Illinois state capitol

Consumers in Illinois will soon have better access to the care provided by advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), thanks to a new bill signed into law on September 20 by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The law, which will go into effect on January 1, 2018, is expected to increase Illinoisans’ access to highly skilled nurses, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

The change enables APRNs who work outside of hospital settings and meet certain conditions to practice without a written agreement with a physician. However, APRN’s ability to prescribe certain medications will remain limited, making this change only a partial victory for consumers.

Beginning next year, APRNs who have completed 4,000 hours of clinical experience with a physician and 250 hours of continuing education will be able to practice without a written agreement with a physician. But they will still be required to have a written agreement with a physician in order to prescribe certain medications that have a high potential for abuse, such as opioids. The measure passed unanimously by the Illinois House and Senate before it was signed by the governor.

Ricki Loar, president of the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing, said in an interview with NPR Illinois that the newly signed measure will allow more people to get treatment they need. AARP Illinois was among the bill’s supporters.

With this step, Illinois joins the ranks of many other states that are making it easier for people to get the care they need from nurses.

“While more work still needs to be done to ensure that all Illinoisans have full access to the care provided by APRNs, the passage of this law is a big step in the right direction,” said Winifred V. Quinn, PhD, director of advocacy and consumer affairs at the Center to Champion Nursing in America.