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Illinois Governor signs new laws to reduce nursing shortages
7/28/2005 4:07:43 PM
Laws increase patient safety, create first-in-the-nation externship program, and encourage advanced practice nurses to increase skills
CHICAGO - Delivering on a promise made during his State of the State address last February, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed into law six bills that will help reduce the nursing shortage in Illinois and mean better access to health care across the state. Today's announcement comes on the heels of several administrative actions by the Blagojevich administration to help reduce the nursing shortage, including streamlining the licensing process for nurses, adding funding to the Nurses Education Scholarship
Program, and increasing funding for training nurses and other health care professionals.
At Chicago's Mercy Hospital, the Governor signed Senate Bill 1842, which establishes a groundbreaking nursing externship pilot program for Puerto Rican nurses; Senate Bill 2064, which eliminates the pre-test exam for foreign nurses; and Senate Bill 201, which will increase patient safety and reduce the risk of errors by eliminating mandatory overtime for nurses.
The Governor also traveled to Herrin Hospital in Southern Illinois to sign Senate Bill 1626, which allows advanced practice nurses to perform school health exams; House Bill 876, which makes important changes to the advance practice nurse license encouraging advanced practice nurses in Illinois to increase their skills; and House Bill 399, which will allow for a pilot program to protect nurses, other hospital staff and patients from violence in state facilities.
"Nurses are the backbone of health care in this country. They perform exams. They study lab results. They work with doctors on treatment plans. As a patient, you know that the nurse is there to help," said Gov. Blagojevich. "But we have a problem in Illinois - we don't have enough nurses. We have to do everything we can to increase their numbers. That's why I'm signing legislation today that will help us recruit and retain these highly skilled professionals. Health care is a right, not a privilege. And being able to attract and keep the best nurses will make a difference in the long term picture of health care in Illinois."
According to region-by-region numbers put together by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the state currently has a nursing shortage of 7 percent (vacancies vs. jobs filled) and that shortage is projected to grow to almost 8,000 registered nurses and 1,200 licensed practical nurses (per year, projected through 2010). Further, the number of potential caregivers, including nurses, is projected to decrease 4.2 percent, and the number of those who need care is projected to increase by 31 percent between 2000 and 2020.
"Because of Gov. Blagojevich's leadership and the overwhelming support of legislators, this was an incredibly successful year for nursing. INA is pleased that Illinois government officials recognize the value of nurses in the delivery of health care services in Illinois," said Kathy Perry, PhD., RN, President, Illinois Nurses Association.
SB 1842 establishes a first-in-the-nation externship program for registered nurses licensed under the laws of another state or territory of the United States who wish to practice in Illinois and are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The law will allow these nurses, primarily from Puerto Rico, to work under the direct supervision of a registered professional nurse licensed in Illinois while they are enrolled in a course which prepares them for the state exam and acclimates them to nursing and health care delivery in our state. In conjunction with SB 2064, it will increase diversity within the nursing profession and prepare nurses educated in a U.S. territory for practice in Illinois. The law, which becomes effective immediately, was sponsored by State Representative Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago) and State Senator Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago).
"Creating opportunities for nurses trained in U.S. territories will increase access to quality health care in communities across the state. Through the use of externships, we not only have more nurses working in Illinois, we can be sure they are well trained and fully qualified," said Rep. Soto.
"There is a critical need for health care providers sensitive to the needs of minority and immigrant communities in Illinois. By offering hands-on training at some of our State's finest institutions, we'll be able to offer new opportunities to nurses trained in U.S. territories and other states," said Sen. Del Valle.
SB 2064 will make Illinois more competitive in attracting new nurses. It clears the way for nurses trained outside of the U.S. to enter the work force faster. Under prior law, these nurses had to pass not only the standard national nurse licensure exam (NCLEX) but also sit for a special test (CGFNS) to become licensed in Illinois. With the CGFNS test only offered four times a year, it was virtually impossible for hospitals in Illinois to successfully recruit foreign trained nurses. The new law will maintain nursing quality because foreign nurses will still have to pass the national exam but will speed up their entry into the workforce. The act sponsored by State Senator Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) and State Representative Susana A. Mendoza (D-Chicago) becomes effective immediately.
"The elimination of the Commission on Graduate of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) examination is long overdue. This predictor exam has been a barrier to entry into nursing practice for the foreign-educated nurses. This law will help foreign-educated nurses experience a seamless entry into professional nursing practice in the state of Illinois," said Jean Lytle, Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium.
"With the signing of this critical measure, Illinois will be able to attract more nurses that we so desperately need," said Sen. Garrett.
"The opportunities for nurses in Illinois are almost limitless and I have confidence that this law will allow recent immigrants and other foreign-trained nurses to use their education and experience to care for those in need," said Rep. Mendoza.
SB 201 will also be critical in attracting more nurses to Illinois, and will greatly protect patient safety by reducing the risk for medical errors when staff has worked too many hours. The bill, which eliminates mandatory overtime for nurses, provides that hospitals may mandate a nurse to work overtime only in an unforeseen emergency circumstance. If they must do so, a nurse may not work more than 4 hours beyond her/his regularly scheduled work shift. In addition, a nurse may not be punished for refusing to work overtime, and if a nurse works 12 hours there must be an 8-hour rest period before working again. The bill represents a compromise between the Illinois Nurses Association and the Illinois Hospital Association. State Representative Angelo Saviano (R-Elmwood Park) and State Senator Donne E. Trotter (D-Chicago) co-sponsored SB201.
"This law recognizes that mandatory overtime can put patient care at risk. It can also cause highly skilled nurses to opt out of working at hospitals where they are urgently needed," said Sen. Trotter.
"Too many nurses have faced the challenge of having to work unexpected overtime, often at the expense of family commitments or a much needed break from a stressful work environment. This law will ensure that the nurses on duty have their full attention to the job at hand and are not too tired to do their best work," said Rep. Saviano.
Complete text of this article can be found at http://www.illinois.gov/PressRelease...=1&RecNum=4181
i think this will work