PHOENIX - Southern Arizona currently needs 1,000 RNs and with continued growth of both population and hospital beds, the Hospital Council of Southern Arizona anticipates that Southern Arizona will need more than 2,400 new registered nurses by 2010, in addition to those already in fast-track nursing degree programs anticipated to graduate.
Since its enactment, Arizona's Partnership for Nursing Education has funded 42 additional nursing faculty positions in colleges to increase the number of RN graduates by approximately 1,000 by 2009. Additionally, according to the Arizona Board of Regents, the state's three universities will double their 2002-03 RN program graduates to 620 in the 2007-08 academic year.
However, even with progress like this, Arizona faces a dire shortage of healthcare professionals. Hospitals and other providers struggle to fill RN positions while nursing students who are qualified and accepted into programs must wait to begin their education because the programs are filled to capacity.
At the same time, Arizona's hospitals are building new and expanding existing facilities to meet the healthcare needs of the fastest growing state in the nation. According to a recent study by Arizona State University's L. William Seidman Research Institute, more than 2,900 new inpatient beds will open in Arizona from 2007-11. This year, three hospitals are scheduled to open in Arizona. During 2005-06, six new hospitals opened in the state.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Arizona ranks 45th in the nation for its ratio of employed registered nurses (RNs). The state has 681 RNs per 100,000 populations, well below the national average of 825 nurses per 100,000 populations. With Arizona's population expected to grow to 8.5 million by 2020, the state's RNs per capita will dip to an alarming 356 per 100,000 populations.