Arizona continues to be a top destination for many families leaving other states across the nation in search of a better quality of life. A cornerstone of any thriving community is a high-quality health care delivery system. It is important that we continue to meet the dynamic needs of a growing population by having the necessary skilled healthcare workforce, and right now we are facing the daunting reality of a significant shortage.
Arizona currently ranks in the top 5 states for the greatest shortage of nurses, an issue that predates COVID-19, but has been exacerbated by the pandemic due to a combination of employee leaving the practice due to burnout, a large number of nurses retiring, and a lack of enough trained nurses to replace those leaving the workplace.
High-quality health care is critical to the quality of life and financial health of Arizona employers, employees, and citizens. If we don’t invest in creating more health care workers, we cannot meet our state’s current health care needs and also meet the needs of rapid population growth.
In addition to providing the necessary health care for Arizona communities, the health care industry strengthens economic development opportunities, attracts and expands business development, and creates hundreds of thousands of local jobs. According to Arizona’s Office of Economic Opportunity, the healthcare and social assistance sector currently represents approximately 13.7% of the state’s workforce and is the leading sector of future job growth over the next decade.
In some regions, hospitals establish the needed hub for advanced health care research and development, as well as medical tourism. This economic activity is important for both urban areas and particularly rural communities where this high wage industry is responsible for a large percentage amount of a local area’s economy.
We continue to work with policy makers and stakeholders to address our health professional shortages to meet the state’s healthcare needs and continues to provide high-wage and quality jobs for Arizonans.