Arizona overcomes decade-old nursing shortage

( Ten years ago, Arizona hospitals couldn’t hire nurses fast enough.

Many times, hospitals had to hire on additional help through national nursing registries to fill up the roster. The recession has changed that.

“A lot of nurses aren’t retiring as early as before,” said Pert Wertheim, vice president of Strategic Communications for the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

“We also had nurses, like other people whose retirement and savings had trouble with the market, return back to work.”

The recession also shrank temporary or traveling nurse registries. The growth of Arizona’s nursing programs in colleges and universities has also played a pivotal role.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of nurses available because the schools expanded, and that met the population increase in Arizona,” said Wertheim.

Wertheim said registry nurses are still used during the busy winter months and with the growing aging population in Arizona, more nurses could be brought in through those organizations.

However, the recent pushes by university programs and community colleges to train more nurses locally will help hospitals keep up with those growing numbers.