While the long-term outlook predicts a nursing shortage in Arizona, the recent economic downturn has made the job market stagnant for new graduates in a sunshine state with an overall 9.1 percent unemployment rate. Arizona has 41,730 RNs and 8,620 Licensed Practical Nurses who earn a median annual salary of $70,220 and $48,390, respectively, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Surveys show 72 percent of newly licensed nurses were hired within six to nine months of licensure in 2010, while only 50 percent of new nurses in 2011 found jobs in that time frame. The majority of nursing jobs are in acute-care settings in the major metro areas such as Phoenix and Flagstaff where BSN degrees are preferred. While both LPNs and RNs contribute to health assessments of patients, RNs make independent nursing decisions and can assign care to an LPN within scope of practice rules.
There are numerous colleges and universities that have nursing programs within Arizona, many offering an LPN to RN option, including:
Northland Pioneer College offers LPN to RN programs in two locations in Navajo County in northeastern Arizona: the lake-studded White Mountains campus in Show Low and the Little Colorado Campus in Winslow. Successful completion of the first year qualifies students to become a licensed LPN or continue for another year to get an Associate of Applied Science degree and RN licensure. Clinical experiences take place in various healthcare settings in a region that includes the tribal homelands of the Navajo, Hopi, and Apache. Graduates have an excellent nursing exam pass rate of over 94 percent.
Mohave Community College in Lake Havasu City offers a practical nursing certificate and an accelerated program to transition LPNs to an RN role in two semesters. Nursing track classes can also be taken at Mohave County campuses in Bull City, Kingman, and Colorado City. Interactive television is used for supplemental instruction with certain specialty topics and students get clinical experiences at health facilities inside and outside the county.
The University of Arizona in Tucson offers a highly-competitive four-semester BSN Pathway program. Licensed LPNs can transfer relevant credits from other schools and must maintain a 3.4 GPA. Clinical sites include Indian health services, community health centers, long-term care settings, retirement centers, schools, and acute-care hospitals.