The 103rd General Assembly of Illinois is in session, and ANA-Illinois is working hard on legislation that will ease workforce issues in Illinois.
From pandemic-related stressors, a preexisting nursing shortage, and increased demand in new healthcare environments like telehealth and Hospital at Home, nursing leaders are looking for new solutions to an increasingly challenging workforce need.
“The reality of what we’re facing right now in nursing is really in an unprecedented time,” says Susan Swart, Executive Director of ANA-Illinois. “We really have to seize the opportunity to put everything out there, to really explain what we need.”
ANA-Illinois is involved with seven pieces of legislation to address the nursing workforce challenge in Illinois in partnership with the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nurses (ISAPN).
The legislation has several goals in mind: for Illinois to become a true full practice authority state, to increase funding related to nursing education, to allow multi-state licenses, and to get more accurate data on the nursing supply and demand in Illinois.
Full Practice Authority-Related Legislation
“We took baby steps when baby steps were necessary, and now there’s nothing left to give but to get rid of these last few pieces,” says Swart.
Senate Bill 199: Remove Consulting Physician Requirement for Schedule 2 Drugs
One of the main pieces of legislation is Senate Bill 199. This bill would remove the requirement for a consulting physician for APRNs with full practice authority and prescribe Schedule 2 narcotics and benzodiazepines.
“The consulting physician is really, truly unnecessary,” Swart says. “Not only have we proven the safety of APRNs providing care in Illinois since we were first licensed in 2001, but prior to 2018, the APRNs who provide mental health services, especially our psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, have been prescribing Schedule 3 benzodiazepines without a routine requirement for physicians to review for years prior to this.”
Finally, a peer review process is already in place with the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), which is an effective safeguard for determining if providers need more education on best practices for Schedule 2 narcotics and benzodiazepines.
Senate Bill 1785: Update Medical Practice Act on Collaborating Physician Specialty
Senate Bill 1785 makes a small change to the Medical Practice Act to align it with the Nurse Practice Act.
“This isn’t our consulting physician. This is for APRNs who don’t have full practice authority and who have to have a written collaborative agreement. The Medical Practice Act said that a physician collaborating with an APRN must work in the same specialty area. That’s not true any longer.”
She continues. “It’s causing some issues for hospitals. It’s a cleanup item, and we need to take care of it.”
Nursing Education Funding
ANA-Illinois is working to increase funding to support nursing education on several fronts.
Senate Bill 1315 & 1316: Nurse Educator Scholarship Fund & Education Assistance Fund
These two bills look to increase the money available in current funds for nurse faculty fellowships, competitive grants for nursing schools, and scholarships and loans for nursing students. The funding would add up to several million dollars to help the nursing pipeline from an educator and student perspective.
Tax Credit for Preceptors for APRNs
A lack of preceptors is delaying education and increasing the cost of education for APRNs.
“We need to incentivize individuals to be preceptors,” says Swart. “We’re looking to develop a tax credit for individuals who agree to precept APRNs. These preceptors can be APRNs who precept; this can be physicians who precept APRNs; it’s just saying that if you agree to precept, we’re going to have a tax credit for you. We’re excited about that.”
Nurse Licensure Compact
Senate Bill 41: The Nurse Licensure Compact would allow for multi-state licensure in Illinois.
“It’s becoming more and more evident that we need to provide whatever resources we can, and the Nurse Licensure Compact is one solution. We just have to do it,” says Swart.
Nursing Workforce Supply & Demand Data
Finally, in order to create the most effective long-term solutions, it’s important to understand the breadth of the problem. That’s where House Bill 1615 comes in. The bill would put IDFPR in charge of collecting data on nursing professionals at the time of their license renewal and of collecting employer-level data.
In addition to collecting data on the workforce supply in the state, the bill would ask IDFPR to collect employer data—from hospitals and clinics to group homes and schools—to understand the demand for nurses in Illinois.
“What are the needs of the healthcare sector in Illinois?” she says. “Getting accurate data is so important and is a huge endeavor.”
Where Are These Bills Now?
ANA-Illinois’ team on the ground in Springfield is working to build coalitions and firm up relationships with legislators who have introduced and will champion the legislation.
“There’s a lot of work that we’re doing behind the scenes to build those relationships and help educate legislators about why these bills are so important,” says Swart.
How Can Nurses Help Get the Legislation Passed?
Nurses can get involved in the political process in a number of ways—and it’s easier than it may seem.
“It’s as easy as picking up the phone and letting the representatives in your district know you’re there and can be a resource on nursing issues and legislation,” she says. “It’s very, very easy, and we’ve got to get more comfortable doing that as a profession.”
Along with contacting your representatives, simply being a member of your professional nursing association helps the legislation. Membership dollars help provide funds for the political work in Springfield. Even more, when it comes to politics, there truly is strength in numbers!
“Membership matters. Being able to say that we have a large number of nurses we’re representing is very important in Springfield. Numbers matter,” says Swart.
Gain Skills & Confidence in Political Action
ANA-Illinois is offering two upcoming conferences to help empower nurses—and get comfortable with engaging in the political process in Springfield.
“We never ask nurses to do things without giving them the resources to be successful!”
Nurses Day at the Capitol on March 7, 2023 (Virtual available)
This one-day event is designed for registered nurses in any capacity—APRN, LPN, RN. The advocacy-focused event is hosted by the Illinois Nurses Grassroots Coalition, founded in 2015 by ANA-Illinois and the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nurses (ISAPN).
Learn more about the 2023 legislative priorities to advance nursing in Illinois during this critical event and receive in-depth guidance on how to advocate for nursing priorities with Illinois Representatives and Senators.
Finally, spend time at the Capitol meeting with Illinois legislators and implement what you learned earlier in the day!
Student Nurse Political Action Day on April 18, 2023
The 25th anniversary of the Student Nurse Political Action Day (SNPAD), hosted by ANA-Illinois, is on April 18, 2023, in Springfield.
Attending this empowering one-day conference is an easy way to engage in meaningful political action for student nurses (and educators!).
This year’s theme for the conference is “Human First, Nurse Second.” This year’s theme serves as a reminder that nurses’ humanity and well-being are the foundations of professional success.
- Swart will deliver the keynote address on this year’s theme.
- The ANA-Illinois Lobbyist will present in-depth information about Illinois’ 103rd General Assembly legislative session.
- The event ends with a memorable and powerful march and rally at the Illinois State Capitol steps.
Send your group registration form (.xlsx) to Jessica Mahnke at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 28, 2023.
Individuals can register online. Registration is easy and affordable!
When nurses join together, we are a powerful force for change. The political work we do improves not only nurses’ lives but also the state of healthcare in Illinois. Your involvement through membership and advocacy makes a real difference, and we hope to see you at the upcoming events!