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New Law Could Mean The Nurse Will See You Now

flickr/wonderlane https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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

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 specialist. They have attained a higher level of education and training.

The change gives them what is known as "full practice authority" letting them diagnose and even prescribe medications to patients, including those with chronic conditions.  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 says 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.  So we would be able to care for the citizens of Illinois in providing those health care services," Loar said.

She says giving those nurses more authority took a while and 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.  But also to demonstrate the education and experience was in place to be able to provide these types of services," she said. 

Advanced practice nurses are also registered nurses, known as R-N's, but have more formal training and education.