Travelling nurses in high demand across Arizona as hospitals face staff shortages

Arizona hospitals continue to face staffing shortages, and travel nurses are answering the call for help.

Hundreds of out-of-state nurses are taking positions in Arizona, and with demand high and the market competitive, some hospitals are offering double the amount of pre-pandemic pay and benefits to attract travelling nurses.

"Specifically in the State of Arizona, we've seen the volume of positions in the last year has increased 200% to 300%," said StaffDNA Vice President of Strategic Solutions Imran Vithani.

Staffing agencies say there is high interest among out-of-state nurses and respiratory therapists in working in the southwest.

"We are seeing applications come through for Arizona-specific candidates that are looking for the Arizona-New Mexico area that want to experience that lifestyle and culture," said Vithani.

Currently, StaffDNA’s job board shows about 350 vacant positions in Phoenix area hospitals, and around 1,200 openings statewide. The demand for travel nurses is as high as the unprecedented volume of patients.

"Compounding that we're seeing increasing callouts of our staff, a lot of our staff has young families," said Mayo Clinic Arizona Chief Nursing Officer Marialena Murphy. "If they or someone in their family had a COVID exposure, they are having to quarantine."

About 3.5% of the workforce at Mayo Clinic Arizona is made up of travel nurses, and they are still looking to hire more. Compassion fatigue and burnout has become a real strain for current staff.

"Having visitor restrictions, that's not only hard for the patients, but it's an added burden for the nurse then too, because they're that person that is at the bedside, and now they’re filling in for the family too," said Murphy.

Healthcare leaders are urging more people to get vaccinated as a way to help solve the staffing shortage and burnout. Nearly all hospitals in the Phoenix area are now requiring staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1.

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