Health Practitioner Workforce

This section describes selected Arizona, rural/urban, and county level health workforce trends. Those persons with health professional licenses from other states who are practicing in federal health care settings (e.g., Indian Health Service (IHS), Veterans Affairs, and military health facilities) are not included in work force numbers. IHS health personnel are described in the Tribal Health Assessment. The 2000 HRSA Arizona Health Workforce Profiles (2000 AHWP) published by the Bureau of Health Professions National Center for Health Workforce Information and Analysis provides the Arizona, Region IX (Arizona, Nevada, and California), and national health worker comparisons.[1] Each health worker section provides the following: Arizona’s national rating as reported by the 2000 HRSA State Health Workforce Profiles (2000 SHWP); the state, urban county, rural-urban county, and rural-rural county 1997-2001 trend summary; and the 1997-2001 community, county, and state table. It should be noted that the 2000 AHWP and the state and county health practitioner trends used different data sources. The workforce section is divided into the following health professional areas:

The 2000 HRSA State Health Workforce Profiles website is

The 2000 SHWP reported that there were 148,853 persons employed in the health sector in Arizona in 1998. This was 7.2 percent of Arizona’s total workforce, slightly lower than the national average of 9.0 percent. Among the 50 states, Arizona ranked 25th in total health services employment, which includes health professionals (e.g., physicians, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists), paraprofessionals (e.g., nurse aides, home health aides, and technicians), and non-patient care workers employed in health service settings (e.g., food service workers and administrative staff). Arizona ranked 47th in health services employment per 100,000 population. In 1998, psychologists were the health professionals with the highest ratio per 100,000 population in Arizona (ranked 27th in the nation), while pharmacists had the lowest ratio in the state (ranked 49th in the nation), as reported by the 2000 SHWP for those examined in this assessment. Health services employment in Arizona grew 52 percent between 1988 and 1998, while the state’s population grew by 32 percent during that period, resulting in a net per capita growth of 15 percent in health services sector employment, this was lower than the national rate of growth of 23 percent. The hospital sector (44.3%) employed the largest number of Arizona health service workers than any other health care setting in 1998.

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association studied the state’s hospital health workforce needs in 2001 ( ). In 2002, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives presented an overview of health professions in Arizona in one of their Arizona Health Futures Issue Briefs, titled Boom or Bust? The Future of the Health Care Workforce in Arizona (

In 2001, the largest health care practitioner group in the state consisted of active registered nurses (40,469), followed by active licensed physicians (9,759). Of the six health professional areas examined, active registered nurses showed the greatest increase in numbers during the period from 1997 to 2001 (+9,171 and 29%), followed by pharmacists (+843 and 29%). During this five-year period, there was a major shift in the number of physicians going into primary care versus specialist fields. The number of primary care physicians grew by 14 percent (+528) while the number of specialist physicians grew less than one percent (+440 and 0.8%). The Arizona Department of Health Services website provides selected community level workforce information:


1. Dill, M., Salsberg, E., Wing, P., Rizzo, A., Krohl, D., Fields, A., Moore, J., Tsao, H., Marzan, G., Myers, V., Acoma, C., Beaulieu, M., Szczepkowski, C., Forte, G., Dionne, M., Ayers, M., and Otto, L. (2000). HRSA State Health Workforce Profiles. Rockville, Maryland: Bureau of Health Professions, National Center for Health Workforce Information & Analysis, Health Resources and Services Administration, DHHS.

2. Arizona Department of Health Services, Bureau of Health Systems Development. (2004). Primary Care Area (PCA) Statistical Profiles.

3. Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professionals, Health Professional Shortage Area Primary Medical Care Designation Criteria. (2005) Retrieved on February 25, 2005 on the World Wide Web:

4. Gordon, R. J. (1987). Arizona Rural Health Provider Atlas, Rural Health Office, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine. pp. 1-152.

5. Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professionals, Health Professional Shortage Area Dental Designation Criteria. (2005) Retrieved on February 25, 2005 on the World Wide Web: dental.htm.