When COVID-19 struck in early 2020, Arizona was already facing a dire health-care worker shortage. That year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Arizona 48th in the nation for the number of health-care workers per capita. Post-pandemic, Arizona still struggles to employ sufficient numbers of health-care workers due in part to employee burnout, inadequate training and an uptick in retirements. To remedy this, the Arizona legislature recently passed the Arizona Healthcare Workforce Development Act (HB2691), which will help increase the number of nurses by funding educational programs, clinical rotations and licensed nurse training through 2027. Arizona State University Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation was quick to pivot to the new law, creating five different pathways for nursing students, including an accelerated Bachelor of Science degree for students with a four-year degree in another field.
As of December 2022, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports a shortage of 667 primary care physicians in Arizona, as a result of population growth, escalating rates of chronic disease and an aging population. Health-care staffing in Arizona’s rural areas is particularly hard hit. To stem the tide, UArizona Health Sciences recently awarded 27 full-tuition scholarships to students pursuing careers as primary care physicians in underserved Arizona communities, but that’s just a drop in the bucket.