The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) announced plans Thursday to get ahead of the looming health care worker shortage facing the statea shortage that’s already left more than 3.3 million Arizonans living in ‘Health Professionals Shortage Areas,’ according to numbers from the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Calling the initiative ‘AZ Healthy Tomorrow,’ ABOR says all three of the state’s public universities will make plans to get more working professionals into health-related fields.
At the University of Arizona, along with partner Banner heath, the College of Medicine and Banner-University Medical Center will integrate services and learning into a “fully integrated academic center,” ABOR announced Thursday. They expect the new path to make way for more medical students.
A new medical school in the Phoenix area will also open under the AZ Healthy Tomorrow initiative, with plans to focus on medical engineering and technology.
Northern Arizona University’s exact plan will be presented to ABOR in the fall. The board says the NAU plan will help address rural health shortage concerns in the state.
The University of Arizona currently operates its Arizona Area Health Education Centers Program, which has provided health professional training and retention in rural communities since it launched in 1984. The university says its existing rural health network and telemedicine will play a role in the AZ Healthy Tomorrow initiative as well.
According to ABOR, these are the number of health professionals the state would need to fill by the year 2030 to address shortages at their current rates:
14,291 registered nurses 3,644 physicians 2,419 behavioral health workers 1,120 dental hygienists 988 physical therapists 871 occupational therapists
For more information on Arizona’s medically underserved areas, visit the Arizona Department of Health Services website.