UNDERSTANDING THE MARKETPLACE AND MARKETING THE APRN ROLE

APRN roles can be very different depending on the specialty (certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist) and the type of organization and its mission. The APRN's marketing plan should be based on the market for the APRN specialty in the community where a position is being sought. The APRN specialty may be in high demand and the role well understood, or in low demand because the role is unknown or misunderstood, or in no demand in

Exhibit 16.2 CURRENT TRENDS IN THE HEALTH CARE ENVIRONMENT

• Efforts to control health care costs

• Consumer and payer demands for care that is safe, of high quality, accessible, equitable, effective, and individualized

• Increased competition among providers for market share

• Use of evidence-based systems to guide clinical interventions and analyze outcomes

• Reduction or increased accountability for use of acute care services

• Increasing focus on primary care

• Increased use of alternative, complementary, and nontraditional therapies

• Greater demand for chronic care services, especially for an aging population

• Development of service models to address increasing ethnic diversity

• Increased efforts to develop interdisciplinary team care models, rather than independent practice models

• Rapid growth of medical and pharmaceutical technology

• Expansion of electronic information systems for service delivery, outcomes analysis, and cost control

• Contraction of the overall job market, with increasing competition for desirable positions an area that has never used an APRN with these skills. Sometimes APRNs are in high demand, but that demand is based on inaccurate expectations.

Success in a competitive marketplace is dependent on the ability of APRNs and employers to identify and match their needs with each other's skills. As in marketing to sell products or services, the process for an APRN involves identifying what a future employer wants or needs, offering a service to meet that need, and then communicating with the prospective employer how the APRN can meet the need. Marketing is about establishing a relationship between the APRN and the employer that demonstrates the competence, necessity, and value of APRN services in meeting the needs of the client (Dayhoff & Moore, 2004).

APRNs will have diverse prospective employers and will need to market themselves and the APRN role with diverse types of information. An APRN's current employer may want to grow or diversify services. Health care consumers or patients, the community, and other health care providers may be the customers for entrepreneurial or independent practice ventures. Whatever the target market, the characteristics of potential clients should be examined. Geographic, demographic, economic, and psychosocial characteristics should be researched. The objective of the APRN's marketing approach should be to focus on the potential employer and work with the employer to identify the needed and desired services (Dayhoff & Moore, 2004).

Identifying the APRN's product to the potential employer should include presenting one's education, certification, experience, and achievement. Highlighting unique attributes or skills that may distinguish the individual APRN from other APRNs or other disciplines may help the employer see the added value of the APRN. For example, identifying a special niche such as diabetes education, or a skill such as motivational interviewing, or expertise in treating mood disorders helps to define the added and unique benefit the APRN may have for the organization.

The APRN then needs to highlight what the product is worth to the organization. This may include additional services the employer can offer to patients, improved patient outcomes for the institution such as earlier discharge or prevention of readmissions, or development of other staff or providers by the APRN. The worth of the APRN must include salary and benefits that are based on the geographic and work setting standards or norms. Analyzing the competition (including other APRNs) and the current market through reviewing published salary surveys, websites of APRN professional associations, job ads, and personal, informal contacts are important. Direct questioning of the potential employer about the market and competition is an acceptable method for gathering additional information.

Researching the potential employer's work environment will help identify both what the APRN has to offer as a product and the worth or contribution the APRN can make to the organization. The environment includes both the relationships with professional peers and support staff and the physical space.

Is it important that APRNs are currently practicing in this environment? What are the characteristics of an environment that would make it conducive to APRN practice or present barriers to practice? Are the relationships collaborative? Are there productivity measures? Is there an assumed work ethic, which might suggest longer hours than stated or unpaid on-call work? Is physical workspace sufficient to promote the productivity and worth of the APRN in the organization?

 
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