Some Illinois lawmakers are hoping Gov. J.B. Pritzker will follow the lead of his Ohio counterpart, who recently enacted a law providing temporary licenses to new nursing graduates.
At his daily press conference Tuesday, Pritzker said he was considering the idea with his legal team and officials at the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, in response to a question about the Ohio law.
On Friday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a law suspending the requirement that nursing school graduates must pass the national licensure exam approved by the Ohio Board of Nursing.
Ohio’s Coronavirus Omnibus Legislation allows the Buckeye State’s nursing board to issue temporary licenses to nurses who completed a board-approved nursing education program and passed a criminal records check.
Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said he supports an executive order in Illinois that would permit nurses who completed the program requirements to practice, under supervision of a licensed health care worker, before passing the state-approved licensure exam.
Under Illinois’ Nurse Practice Act, prospective licensed professional nurses and registered nurses must pass the exam in order to become licensed.
“They could use this as an opportunity to practice in the field. There’s no reason for us to reinvent the wheel,” Skillicorn told the Law Bulletin. “They can earn some necessary skills and practice, and we can use the skills they already have.”
Skillicorn said he believes Pritzker has the authority under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act to issue the order.
Illinois Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-North Aurora) said the proposal seems like a win-win.
“You can learn a lot of stuff in the classroom, but there’s a lot of stuff you can’t learn in the classroom that you can learn on site. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be supervising this and giving them credit for time, and energy and efforts to learn more and to help,” Oberweis told the Law Bulletin. “It’s a win for them because they get the credit, but it’s also a win for the state of Illinois and for people who are in need of help.”
Pritzker was asked on Tuesday whether he was considering a measure similar to Ohio’s law.
“We have nursing students who are a month away or two months away from graduation. They’re capable of being health care professionals… Same thing with medical students and others,” Pritzker said.
“So yes, we need everybody and anybody that has medical training to help us in this endeavor. I mean, just think of the hospitals that we’re turning on across the state, that we’re expanding capacity, and then think about McCormick Place with 3,000 potential patients. We need health care workers and we need to add to our workforce in every in any way we can,” he added.
Last week, Pritzker issued executive orders allowing certain health care workers with out of state licenses to work in Illinois and suspending restrictions on certain health care workers who were recently retired or considered inactive.