TEMPE, Ariz. — The nursing population in Arizona is sick, tired and old.
Industry experts expect the nursing shortage the entire country is experiencing to last well into 2030. Part of the reason for this is the nursing workforce is aging with around half of the nurses employed being older than 50.
The pandemic has also stressed the healthcare industry. Access to clinical sites for nurse training became trickier because of COVID-19. The stress put an extra burden on nurses already on the job.
Arizona State University said the demand for nurses has been exacerbated by more patients with chronic diseases and the need for both sporadic and chronic care.
The university added it's making a dent in the nursing shortage. In December 2020, ASU said it graduated more new nurses than ever before at more than 600 graduates, up from 300 in 2017.
Judith Karshmer, ASU's Chief Wellness Officer, said there's an even greater need for these healthcare professionals in Arizona.
"The need for new nurses is even more acute in the West and the South, data shows that nationwide," Karshmer said. "Part of it is our growing so much in Phoenix. Our economy is strong. We attract an older and younger population. We knew this need for more nurses was growing, growing, growing."
Karshmer added ASU is innovative, training nurses for the future of the industry and where they traditionally are too. That's allowed them to increase their number of students.
One of those recent graduates is Adam Zisa. Zisa said he left a career as a school counselor to get into the medical field. He said medicine has always been on his mind, leading him to going back to school.
"This is where I want to be, especially in a pandemic and try to meet the needs of the population," Zisa said. "The cool thing about working with pediatrics and kids is they really want to get better, and so I want to help them get out and get into being their normal selves and get back to being healthy as soon as possible."
Arizona State said the need for nurses reaches across all specialties. The university is also looking at how to bring more students into the program, while keeping them where they live in Arizona to serve their own communities.
COVID-19 Vaccine in Arizona
Here you can find the latest updates on the COVID-19 vaccines for Arizona and the United States on our 12 News YouTube playlist here.