Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing

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Open doors for nurses

The following letter by Dean Vicki Keough was published March 2, 2015 in the Chicago Sun-Times.

As dean of the Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and as a nurse practitioner (NP), I am writing in response to the letter from Tuesday, Feb. 17, opposing House Bill 421 allowing NPs to practice without restrictions in Illinois.

NPs currently cannot practice without a collaborative agreement with a physician or a health-care organization in the state. NPs are highly educated, highly skilled professionals who should have the opportunity to practice to the full extent of their education and skills, as they do in 22 other states in America.

Approximately 15,000 new NPs enter the health-care workforce each year. Allowing nurse practitioners to practice without restrictions would help to address the primary care physician shortage and access-to-care issues facing Illinois residents. Physicians alone cannot tackle this problem. In fact, nurses and physicians together will make a stronger team who, united, can improve healthcare for the public.

Other reasons to support House Bill 421 include:

  • Research clearly demonstrates that NPs provide excellent care that is equal to the care given by physicians.
  • NPs hold prescriptive privileges in all 50 states and in Washington, DC.
  • By providing high-quality care and counseling, NPs can lower the cost of healthcare for patients. Patients who see NPs as their primary-care provider often have fewer emergency room visits, shorter hospital stays and lower medication costs.
  • Many NPs choose to leave Illinois to work in Iowa where they have independent practice authority.

Loyola University Chicago NP graduates are well-prepared to deliver high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered care to the citizens of Illinois. I encourage you to write to your legislators to allow NPs to practice independently, so that the people of our state can more easily access the care they deserve.

Vicki A. Keough, PhD, APRN-BC, ACNP, FAAN
Dean and Professor, Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing
Loyola University Chicago