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Arizona: Nursing Workforce Update

Career News September 5, 2013

This report looks at the status of the Arizona nursing workforce. Some of the latest figures shared by the BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) indicate that the job outlook for nurses is “excellent” and that job growth is expected to be faster than in most other fields.

The most rapid growth will be for RNs and nurses who have educational advanced degrees in areas such as hospital outpatient care. This growth is largely due to managed care trends and technological innovations as patients shift from inpatient care to outpatient. These nationwide trends hold true for Arizona.

Our country is currently in the midst of a nursing shortage. Over 100,000 nursing job openings are waiting to be filled at this time, and the current nursing workforce is aging and getting ready to retire. Here are a few of the reasons for the current nursing shortage:


In the Arizona nursing workforce, a generation of career nurses is nearing retirement. This will inevitably lead to an increased number of new job openings. The recession of 2008 – 2010 has led many nurses, who had been ready for retirement, to keep working longer than the normal retirement age. This could drive the future number of nursing vacancies higher than expected.

Retention/Recruitment Challenges

Nursing tends to be a stressful way of make a living. Dealing with injured, sick and dying patients can really take a toll on the emotions. Long, 12-hour shifts add to the stress, and it’s easy to understand why there is significant turnover in nursing.

At the average hospital, nursing staff turnover is around 13%. This decreased from 15% in 2010 and 14% in 2011. The profession of nursing has significant, mental, emotional and physical demands. The stringent requirements of health care pile onto the demands of shift work. All of these things add up to difficulty in retaining qualified nursing staff.

Changing Demographics

In Arizona, the retired and aging population is placing increased demands on the health care services. Arizona is a haven for retirees, and the demand for health workers to care for them will only increase. Demand is growing faster, in Arizona, for nursing specialists that serve the elderly.

Shortage of Nursing Faculty

As the demand for nurses increase consistently, shortages of teachers at nursing schools nationwide are severely limiting student enrollment capacity.

Arizona: Nursing Workforce and Future Needs At-a-glance

Number of Licensed RNs working in 2011: 44,710

Nurses per 100,000 residents in Arizona: 690 (874 is the national average)

Annual Mean Salary (2011): $72,340

Projected demand for nurses in 2020: 55,519

Is Arizona Among the Top 10 for Highest Nurse Pay? No

Is Arizona Among the Bottom 10 for Lowest Nurse Pay? No

Does Arizona have an Articulation Agreement? If so, what kind?

Yes, Arizona has a statewide articulation agreement. Articulation models are available in 24 states; the District of Columbia and Arizona is included among them. Plans tend to be in place for public and some private institutions.
These agreements usually apply to the programs in a state’s community college and university systems as well. This articulation agreement was developed by a group of nurse educators, legislators, regulators, and others who want to enhance educational mobility for nurses. This program allows RNs to continue their education toward advanced degrees, including MSNs and BSNs.

Arizona: Outlook for Nursing Jobs

The Future of Nursing Arizona Action Coalition is working to transform health care for the better, through excellent nursing standards in the state. The coalition understands that Arizona has specific health care needs and challenges.
They work with diverse stakeholders to model and create innovative health care solutions, with nurses on the cutting edge. They are also dedicated to increasing the number of nurses with advanced degrees in Arizona. The Future of Nursing has a national campaign to try and increase the percentage of nurses earning a BSN to 80% by the year 2020.

The Arizona nursing workforce will have a need for quality candidates in the near future. Outlook is strong due to Arizona’s high retirement and elderly population. Nurses with educational advanced degrees and a true passion for this challenging career can enjoy the beauty of Arizona’s sunshine and deserts while making a difference in peoples’ lives.

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