Written by Michele Joseph, Health Care Workforce Development Manager
The impact of global workforce shortages are calling out for new and innovative ways to scale up the health care workforce. Arizona is projected to have the most significant shortage of nurses in the country in the coming years, with a total projected deficit of over 28,000 RNs by 2025. The pandemic compounded this shortage, with many medical professionals retiring early or leaving the health care sector, resulting in thousands of job openings across the Greater Phoenix region. As a result, the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation (Foundation) formed the employer-led Health Care Workforce Collaborative (HCWC). The collaborative is comprised of human resource and clinical representatives from hospitals throughout Maricopa County.
The Foundation has worked with the Maricopa County Community College District to develop Specialty Nursing programs to upskill current RNs in key areas such as Critical Care and Telemetry. So far, 144 students have completed these programs.
Recently, the shortage of nurses has not been the only concern for hospital recruiters; many entry-level positions such as housekeeping and food service remain vacant.
Through our education arm, ElevateEdAZ, we link high school programs with high-wage, high-demand, and high-skill occupations. The high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are quite robust and include sports medicine, pharmacy, and nursing, among many others. Students graduate high school with credentials that can get them into an entry-level position in a hospital while continuing their education at a community college. The Foundation is forming a committee of business advisors to ensure these programs’ pathways, credentials, and competencies are in line with current industry needs, so the students have the necessary skills upon graduation.
The Foundation is also convening a group of nursing executives to discuss solutions to the end-to-end talent challenges and create cohesive pathways for nursing education, from high school programs to nursing schools to specialty nursing programs. The Chamber is looking to leverage the American Rescue Plan Act to support sustainable solutions to address the nursing crisis.
In addition, the HCWC is preparing to launch a Talent Attraction Campaign. The marketing campaign intends to communicate with, attract, and engage experienced out-of-state health care professionals to help fill the anticipated workforce gap. This campaign will utilize social media and a specialty branded website to engage with nurses interested in relocating to Arizona’s vibrant health care ecosystem.
Through all of these efforts, the Foundation’s Healthcare Workforce Collaborative is working together to combat these shortages and ensure the Greater Phoenix region continues to grow as a top health care hub.