The survey includes questions about training, current working
conditions, continuing education and teaching opportunities. The
Illinois Center for Nursing, part of the Illinois Department of
Financial and Professional Regulation, has been charged with
developing short- and long-term strategies to reduce the current and
projected shortage of nurses.
"If we don't find ways to recruit more nurses in Illinois, it
could reduce our access to quality health care," said Department of
Financial and Professional Regulation Secretary Dean Martinez.
"Governor Blagojevich gave us a great resource to tackle this issue
head-on when he signed groundbreaking legislation less than a year
ago that created the Nursing Center. The information we collect will
be used to develop a strategic plan to significantly reduce the
nursing shortage in Illinois."
Surveys were mailed on June 25 and are due by July 17. Nurses
have the option of completing the 20-minute survey on paper and
returning it in an enclosed envelope or taking the survey online.
Because the survey was mailed to a representative sampling of
licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and advanced practice
nurses, it is particularly important that those who received a
survey questionnaire complete the form and return it as soon as
"We know that Illinois trains and recruits some of the country's
best nurses. What we don't know, and hope to learn from this survey,
is whether those nurses are satisfied with their working conditions,
salaries and ongoing educational opportunities," said Daniel E.
Bluthardt, director of the Division of Professional Regulation. "We
hope the information we gain from this survey will give the Nursing
Center board the tools it needs to keep nurses working in Illinois
and add nurse educators to increase the number of nursing programs
in the state."
In addition to authorizing this formal survey, the center
undertook an informal survey of nursing education programs to
determine whether sufficient faculty and resources would be
available should the board begin aggressively recruiting nursing
students. It found that some regions of the state have long waiting
lists for entry into programs. The board has begun working with
schools across the state to make sure that students interested in
beginning a career in nursing have the information they need to
select an appropriate program.
The 11-member board, appointed by Blagojevich, represents the
diversity of the Illinois health care community and includes members
from every region of the state. The center is responsible for
assessing the current supply and demand for nurses in Illinois and
developing a strategic plan to ensure that the state can train,
recruit and retain nurses. The board will also work with state,
regional and local businesses and governments to provide support for
programs to expand opportunities for nurses in Illinois.
Early in his administration, Blagojevich reviewed the state of
health care in Illinois and found that the number of potential
caregivers, including nurses, is projected to decrease 4.2 percent
between 2000 and 2020, while the number of those who need care is
projected to increase by 31 percent.
The governor made a commitment in his 2005 State of the State
speech to address the shortage of health care workers through his
Critical Skills Shortage Initiative. Approximately $10 million is
being invested statewide to ensure that every region of the state
has a well-trained and equipped work force in the health care
industry. Local Workforce Investment boards, area employers,
economic development professionals, educators and service providers
are developing individualized strategies to get more health care
professionals into the work force. That innovative approach to
expanding training opportunities is being replicated by Indiana.
In Illinois, the results of the governor's initiative are
starting to be realized:
over 100 students in allied health and nursing education
programs. All 15 of the students who have graduated from that
program are working in health-related careers. One student was a
certified nurse assistant when she first came to Workforce
Network. Based on her current education, she was limited as to
the type of job she could obtain within the health care field.
Her career goal was to be a registered nurse, but she could
reach that goal only with the help of the network. In May 2006,
she received her registered nurse pin as a graduate of OSF St.
Francis College of Nursing and is now working at OSF Medical
Center as a nurse in the Fourth Surgical Department.
- Peoria's Workforce Development Department
[to top of second column]
Rock Island, the Partners in Job Training and Placement
provided 77 students with financial and placement
assistance. Seventeen students have graduated with associate
degrees in nursing and other allied health care professions.
program provides concentrated assistance to Spanish-speaking
students. The Instituto del Progreso Latino established
the Carreras en Salud, a career pathways curriculum bridging
bilingual students with positions as certified nursing
assistants and licensed practical nurses. Thirty students have
completed the program and are now working in nursing positions.
Almost 300 students are enrolled in the Carreras en Salud
Several programs have announced expansions of their health care
education programs. Saint Anthony College of Nursing in Rockford
announced in February that it would be creating a master's degree
program for nursing. Northern Illinois University is expanding
opportunities in Chicago's northwest suburbs by partnering with
suburban Harper College to earn credit for nursing course work and
general education before applying to NIU to complete the four-year
program leading to a bachelor's degree in nursing. Western Illinois
University has also announced it is exploring the possibility of
offering a baccalaureate nursing program.
The legislation that created the Illinois Nursing Center will
also help Illinois address the projected shortage of nurses by
providing scholarships for nurse educators willing to commit to
teaching in Illinois. The law also creates the Illinois Nurse
Educator Loan Repayment Program through the Illinois Student
Assistance Commission. The program will allow current nurse
educators to receive $5,000 in student loan forgiveness a year, for
up to four years. The program is expected to be up and running next
Since 2003, Blagojevich has taken a broad array of actions to
deal with the nursing shortage and improve the working conditions
for Illinois nurses. They include:
Also included in the fiscal 2007
budget was a significant investment in technology and personnel
to reduce the waiting time for nurses and other licensed
professionals to obtain new licenses or renew current licenses.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
has implemented the new licensing system in its Division of
Professional Regulation, which issues more than 900,000 of the
department's 1.2 million professional licenses. The new
initiative reduces application processing time for professional
licenses from the four to19 weeks it took last year to just one
to four weeks -- an improvement of more than 400 percent. The
initiative costs $1.5 million annually.
Nursing Education Scholarship Program -- The Nursing
Education Scholarship Program became more effective when
additional funding was included in the reauthorization of the
Nursing Practice Act, signed by Blagojevich in 2004. The act
increased the percentage of license fees that are transferred
into the scholarship program. In 2006, there was $1.2 million --
an increase of $450,000 -- to provide approximately 150 students
with financial assistance to pursue an associate degree in
nursing, an associate degree in applied sciences in nursing, a
hospital-based diploma in nursing, a baccalaureate degree in
nursing, a graduate degree in nursing or a certificate in
Keeping nurses in
Illinois -- A new law enables advanced practice nurses to be
licensed in more than one specialty without having multiple
graduate degrees as long as the nurses have the educational and
clinical experience to be nationally certified. This encourages
highly trained advanced practice nurses to stay in Illinois by
making it easier for them to advance in their careers.
first-in-the-nation externship program -- Nurses who are
licensed under the laws of another state or territory of the
U.S., primarily from Puerto Rico, who wish to practice in
Illinois and are preparing to take the National Council
Licensure Examination, are now allowed to work under the direct
supervision of a registered professional nurse licensed in
Illinois while they are enrolled in a course that prepares them
for the licensure exam and acclimates them to nursing and health
care delivery in our state. This increases diversity within the
nursing profession and prepares nurses educated in a U.S.
territory for practice in Illinois.
[Text from Illinois
Department of Financial and Professional Regulation news release received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]