Board of Regents unveils AZ Healthy Tomorrow, response to state’s growing health care needs

The Arizona Board of Regents and the three state universities recently unveiled the AZ Healthy Tomorrow initiative to address Arizona’s growing health care needs. 

The country continues to battle a critical shortage of medical personnel, and the need in Arizona over the past decade has become particularly acute. Nearly 3 million Arizonans have limited access to primary care, and 1 in 3 Arizona hospitals is critically understaffed. 

The AZ Healthy Tomorrow initiative combines the resources and expertise of Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, along with a $30 million investment by the Board of Regents to help train medical professionals, as well as maintain Arizona’s place as a nationwide leader in innovation and bioscience. 

This initiative includes the establishment of ASU Health, which will launch a new medical school to educate new physicians and lead to statewide, ASU-led health clinics 

“We are focusing our full energy and innovation on improving Arizona’s health outcomes,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “We must generate knowledge at a scale that will impact society. Our university charter drives us to assume fundamental responsibility for the overall health of the communities we serve. This is an extension of that core belief.” 

State business leaders cheered the news. 

“Ensuring Arizona can meet the health care needs of its residents not only enhances the state’s quality of life, but it also makes us more competitive for new jobs,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden said. “Credit to the Board of Regents for taking concrete steps to enhance the health care talent pipeline in Arizona.” 

Gov. Hobbs echoed Seiden. 

“It’s critical that we ensure every Arizonan has access to quality, affordable health care,” Ariz. Gov. Katie Hobbs said. “That means we must attract and develop qualified health care professionals, and the AZ Healthy Tomorrow program is an important step to getting that done. I’m glad Arizona’s universities are moving the needle forward on this important issue.” 

AZ Healthy Tomorrow has set the goal of exceeding the national average for a state’s number of doctors and nurses per-capita. 

Other plans include a partnership between the University of Arizona and Banner Health in creating an academic medical center, allowing students to develop experience while also bringing together Arizona’s foremost research experts. 

“In Tucson, the University of Arizona and its partner — Banner Health — are forging the College of Medicine and Banner University Medical Center into a fully integrated academic medical center, bringing together nationally recognized researchers with clinical programs of distinction,” Regent Fred DuVal wrote in The Arizona Republic. “The result: a higher standard of care for Arizonans and a goal of doubling the volume of new medical doctors.”

Northern Arizona University will also be continuing to build its nursing and allied health professions program. More details are anticipated this fall.  

“Thanks to the Arizona Board of Regents’ AZ Healthy Tomorrow initiative, we will be better equipped to serve patients across diverse health care settings and with unique needs, both in urban hubs and rural areas statewide,” Health System Alliance of Arizona President and CEO Brittney Kauffman said. “AZ Healthy Tomorrow will mean more physicians, nurses, and other health professionals to fill the health care talent pipeline, and we look forward to welcoming these new professionals into our hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and other facilities across the state in the years ahead.”

Tommy Logan

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