Rauner signs bill expanding practice authority for certain nurses
A new law will allow certain nurses in Illinois to practice independently of physicians, expanding health care access and affordability.
A bill signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sept. 20 removes a professional barrier for certain nurses, which could make health care more affordable and improve Illinoisans’ access to medical services, especially in underserved areas.
House Bill 313, now Public Act 100-0513, amends the Nurse Practice Act to allow advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs, to practice without entering into a written collaborative agreement with a doctor, provided they first meet certain education and training standards.
APRNs are licensed, registered nurses with higher levels of education and training, such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists. Under the new law, APRNs who attain national certification in their fields and at least 4,000 hours of clinical experience in collaboration with a physician, and complete at least 250 hours of continuing education, will have the authority to practice nursing without entering into a collaborative agreement with a doctor. These APRNs will be able to diagnose patients, order diagnostic tests, treat illness, provide patient counseling and education, and prescribe medication.
In an effort to help stem the opioid epidemic, the law restricts APRNs in prescribing certain narcotics, including opioids; it requires that this be done in consultation with a physician and recorded under Illinois’ Prescription Monitoring Program.
The act clarifies that it does not allow APRNs to engage in practices that Illinois law reserves for physicians, such as operative surgery.
The bill faced no objections in either chamber of the General Assembly: An amended version passed 55-0 in the Illinois Senate in May, and a concurrence measure passed the Illinois House of Representatives 99-0 in June.
Rauner said that through the bill, “We’re knocking down barriers and restrictions on [the] ability of our nurses to provide high quality care that they are well trained for and well equipped to provide.” In the video of the bill-signing the Round Lake Area News posted, the governor notes, “This can enhance the availability of services and it can help keep health care more affordable while also increasing the quality of health care.”
Ricki Loar, president of the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing, emphasized the law’s importance in improving Illinoisans’ access to medical care, “especially in rural areas where there may not be physicians within a couple hundred miles,” according to NPR Illinois.
This new law is a win for Illinoisans and for hardworking, dedicated nurses, who will be able to use their education and training more fully to deliver high-quality, affordable care.