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Arizona's population increased 40% from 1990 to 2000, and an estimated 12% more from 2000 to 2004, according to U.S. Census figures. The Scottsdale and Phoenix area is booming. Flagstaff, in the north central part of the state, and Tempe, between Phoenix and Tucson in south central Arizona, are growing, but not as rapidly. However, some smaller communities, such as Gilbert and Surprise are experiencing growth that can only be called phenomenal.


The supply of nurses cannot keep pace, and a 2005 report from the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association's (AzHHA), Arizona's Nursing Shortage, says that as the population continues to grow and hospitals add more beds, the state's nursing shortage "has reached a crisis level."


A critical element is the inadequate supply of new nurses. The AzHHA report says that Arizona nursing programs graduate about 1200 nurses annually but that by 2007, 2,000 new nurses will be needed each year; by the year 2015, 2,600 will be needed. A lack of capacity and of qualified faculty are cited as reasons the programs turn away hundreds of qualified applicants each year.


The AzHHA says its member hospitals are trying to cope by holding on to the nurses they have. The hospitals reduced turnover rates from 27% in 2001 to 15% in 2003, but despite their efforts, vacancy rates rose from 15% to 16% in the same period. There are only a limited number of nurses available.


The federal government has responded by passing the Nurse Education Act and the Nurse Reinvestment Act. Programs will provide money for grants, scholarships, loan repayment, and other vehicles to support nursing. The Arizona legislature responded by passing a law directing colleges to come up with a plan to double nursing enrollment, but $126 million is needed to fully implement the plan. Now the AzHHA is working to form partnerships with the health care community, colleges, and state and federal officials to make the plan a reality.


Stressed out from work? Hospital politics getting you down? Need a change of scenery to regroup and reenergize? Think travel nursing, called the "antidote for burnout" by travel nursing expert Shalon Weddington, MSN, RN.


First, do some research. Talk to friends and coworkers who have tried travel nursing. Which agency did they work for? Where did they go? What were some of their experiences?


Next, call a few of the agencies that people have recommended. Talk to the recruiters. Chances are they have assignments in places that might interest you. Find out what positions are in demand and what qualifications are needed. Travel is not for the neophyte nurse. Travel companies and the clients they serve are looking for competent, self-assured nurses with experience and who can step right into an assignment after a very brief orientation.


Do the paperwork. Check licensing requirements. Twenty states, the latest being South Carolina, are called "compact states." This means an RN license from one is recognized in the others. California, a popular destination for travelers, is not a compact state, but it issues a temporary California license to cover travelers there. For more information on compact states and licensing, see the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Web site at


Compare benefits from several of the agencies that interest you. Make a chart, listing benefits on one side, and the companies on the other, leaving room for comments and impressions. Do the recruiter and company present themselves professionally? Do they answer all your questions and concerns? While you may hear their assurances, are they willing to back them up and put them in writing?


And last, don't feel pressured to take an assignment that you aren't comfortable with. There will be other opportunities when you feel at ease and ready for the fun, excitement, and challenge that is travel nursing.


Your Guide to Job Opportunities in Arizona

Abrazo Health Care


7878 N. 16th Street


Phoenix, AZ 85020


(602) 674-1451


Web site: apply online


Banner Health


Phoenix, AZ


(866) 377-JOBS (5327)


Web site:


Catholic Healthcare West


(866) 754-6774


Web site:


Northern Arizona Healthcare


1200 N. Beaver St.


Flagstaff, AZ 86001


Contact: Human Resources


(800) 446-2324 or (888) 249-9995


Web site:


Northwest Medical Center


6180 N. Corona Rd., Ste. 102


Tucson, AZ 85704


(520) 469-8549


Northwest Medical Center/Oro Valley


1551 East Tangerine


Oro Valley, AZ 85755


Contact: Human Resources


(520) 901-3911


Fax: (520) 469-8050


Web Site:


(for both NMC facilities)


Scottsdale Healthcare


Web site:


Tucson Medical Center


5301 E. Grant Rd.


Tucson, AZ 85712


Contact: Bruce Megenhardt


(800) 526-5353, ext. 41543


Fax: (520) 324-5277




Web site:


Yuma Regional Medical Center


2400 S. Avenue A


Yuma, AZ 85364


Contact: Professional Recruiter


(800) 726-YUMA (9862)


Fax: (928) 336-7677




Web site:


Your Guide to Job Opportunities in Travel Nursing

American Mobile Healthcare


(800) 282-0300


American Traveler Staffing Professionals


(800) 884-8788


Cross Country TravCorps


(800) 530-6125


HRN Services


(888) 476-9333


Medical Express


(800) 544-7255




(800) 732-9992




(866) 557-6050




(800) 733-9354




O'Grady Peyton


(877) 504-7794


qShift Travel Nurses


(800) 733-6877


(877) 578-3975




(866) 280-8970


Supplemental Healthcare


(866) 664-7183