Nationwide nursing shortage felt in southern Arizona

Travel nurses are still in high demand by hospitals that are filling gaps.
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 9:54 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A nationwide nursing shortage is being felt in southern Arizona. St. Mary’s Hospital held a nursing hiring event Tuesday. Lynn Watson, St. Mary’s Hospital Chief Nursing Officers, said they have openings in the ICU, operating room, medical, surgical units and other departments.

“We are excited to kind of be inching back to what we call routine or normal operations,” Watson said.

TMC has said it’s also looking to hire more nurses.

“We’re experiencing across the Tucson community,” Watson said. “I think all the hospitals are feeling a little bit of that.”

Many nurses flocked to travel nursing jobs during the pandemic.

“It was very missional and a huge buy-in for the calling that was around us to help save the nation,” said Chrystal Fugett, the vice president of recruitment at Aya Healthcare.

Fugett recruits for the nationwide travel nursing agency. She said the long hours and isolation felt while traveling during COVID motivated some nurses to return to permanent hospital positions, however many others are continuing to travel.

“A lot of people have really said wow I never understood the flexibility that can come with being in the driver seat of your career,” she said.

Travel nurses are still in high demand by hospitals that are filling gaps.

“Very high volume of travel requests from our hospitals and accounts just in need of just every single unit being staffed,” Fugett said.

The need for nurses is growing. A recent study at the University of St. Augustine found 1.2 million new RNs will be needed by 2030 to address the current shortages.

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