TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona has been going through a nurse shortage for years now and that definitely holds true for hospitals in southern Arizona as well, according to Carondelet Health Network officials.
Jennifer Biggs, the Chief Nursing Officer at St. Mary's Hospital says there are aboiut 325 nurses at St. Mary's, but they're still short between 30 and 40 nurses.
Biggs told KGUN9 the nurse shortage across the state isn't caused by simply one thing, rather a combination of multiple factors.
"We have an aging population here in Arizona and as people continue to retire and age there's more need for healthcare services," Biggs said.
She added another factor had to do with the healthcare setting many new nurses are choosing to go into.
"Out-patient services, community services, primary care are drawing nurses out of hospitals and into other types of roles and so it makes it harder for hospitals to recruit," Biggs said.
But there isn't just a lack of nurses in Arizona -- the state is attracting fewer doctors as well. The Association of American Medical Colleges found only 42 percent of Arizona medical students remain in the state after graduation. Tucson Medical Center says the problem is a lack of post-graduation training opportunities.
State legislators in Phoenix are trying to stem that tide. A bill just passed the appropriations committee in the Arizona House of Representatives would appropriate $50 million betewen five programs for post-graduate opportunities in Arizona, including in Tucson.
Carondelet is hosting a job fair on Wednesday, March 20 to try and bring in more nurses to their three hospitals.
The job fair will be held between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel located at 445 S. Alvernon Way.