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New State Law Gives Some Nurses Greater Authority

Flickr User wonderlane/CC 2.0

A new Illinois law is expected to improve access to health care by giving more authority to certain nurses.  

The law applies to advanced practice nurses, who are differentiated from other nurses by having obtained higher levels of education and training. APN's are licensed, registered, professional nurses and can include certified nurse midwives, certified nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified clinical nurse specialists. 

The change gives them what is known as "full practice authority." This allows nurses to diagnose and even prescribe medications to patients, including those with chronic conditions. Furthermore, they'll be able to provide those services without entering into an agreement with a doctor or hospital.

Ricki Loar is president of the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing. She said it will allow more people to get treatment they need.  

"Especially in rural areas where there may not be physicians within a couple hundred miles," she said. "So we would be able to care for the citizens of Illinois in providing those health care services."

She said giving those nurses more authority finally came about after long negotiations involving doctors and hospitals.   

"I think the hold-up came about after showing and really demonstrating first a need to have advanced practice nurses be able to do this," she said. "But also to demonstrate the education and experience was in place to be able to provide these types of services."

The law's effective date is Sept. 20.