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Maricopa County attempting to fix nursing shortage

A new pilot program will offer local nursing students valuable hands-on experience that might help them feel more prepared before entering the workforce.

MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast. 

Maricopa County is trying to resolve the region's nursing shortage by piloting a program that offers nursing students more hands-on training before entering the workplace. 

The ongoing pandemic has pushed Arizona's health care industry to its limits and local hospitals have been struggling to keep positions filled. 

Burnout caused by the pandemic and a wave of impending retirements in the aging workforce is creating a greater demand for more qualified nurses. 

According to the county, the number of nursing vacancies in Maricopa County jumped by 40% during the first year of the pandemic. 

“Having a nursing shortage during a pandemic is a true crisis, and no one entity can solve it alone,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said in a statement.

In order to better train nurses before they leave school, the county is using funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act to place 50 students into a preceptorship program. 

The students will spend several weeks working one-on-one with a professional in a health care setting who can teach the type of insider knowledge students can't get in a classroom. 

County officials said many of the 2,000 nursing students who graduate each year in Maricopa County aren't "practice-ready" due to the limited availability of clinical placements. 

The pilot program aims to help students feel less overwhelmed before entering the health care workforce and, hopefully, less likely to leave the profession later on. 

"We’ve identified one area where we think we can make a difference, and that’s in making sure more nurses are ready to hire straight out of school," Gates added.

More information can be found here.

RELATED: Critical nursing shortage expected to last for years in Arizona

RELATED: Nursing schools see applications rise, despite COVID burnout

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