fusion point research Marketing Research Reports

Marketing to Nursing Leaders in Healthcare

Understanding Their Role

Nurses work on the front line of healthcare. The definition of nursing according to the American Nursing Association is the “protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury and alleviation of suffering.”1 Nursing is going through major changes as nurses take on more and more responsibilities and move from a supportive role to being primary care providers.2


The field of nursing includes many different types of nurses working at all levels of healthcare. The basic nursing track includes licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses. Some of the different types of nurses that work in hospitals include:


  • Licensed practical nurse
  • Registered nurse
  • Advanced practice registered nurse
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Doctor of nursing practitioner
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist
  • Nurse Informaticist
  • Chief Nursing Officer


The largest group of nurses are licensed practical nurses (LPN) and registered nurses (RN). Licensed practical nurses graduate from a one to two-year nursing program and must pass state licensing exams. LPN's provide basic and routine health care to patients under the direction of registered nurses or physicians. There is a trend away from the hiring of licensed practical nurses in hospitals due to their lack of training. Some hospitals now mandate that all nurses have at least a college degree.3 Registered nurses complete a four-year nursing degree and pass required state licensing exams. RN's perform a variety of healthcare functions including providing physical exams, taking health histories, administering medication and wound care. They also make decisions about needed patient care in collaboration with other healthcare professionals and supervise LPNs and nurse aides.4


Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) is a general term for nurses who have at least a Master's degree in nursing. To qualify as an APRN, they must also maintain their standing as an RN and fulfill state requirements for APRN licensing. Nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives are all APRN's with special training and certifications.5 The growing movement toward nurses as primary care providers is exemplified by these Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. The advanced nursing specialty that was the first to take hold is that of certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA). CRNA's are responsible for providing more than 65% of anesthetics given to patients annually. Nurse practitioners (NP) all have advanced degrees in addition to advanced clinical training. They must also meet national certifications and state licensing requirements. NPs can diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medications and counseling and oversee general patient care. Many patients use nurse practitioners as their main health care provider that helping to lower healthcare costs. Also with the nursing emphasis on prevention, industry data indicates that patients with NPs as their primary care provider tend to stay healthier with less emergency room visits and lower use of medications. Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) also have advanced degrees and must pass the CNS exam and meet state requirements. CNSs can also diagnose and treat patients but in most states they are not allowed to prescribe medications. Most clinical nursing specialists work in hospitals or acute care facilities.6 7


One of the newest areas of nursing is the Nurse Informaticist where nursing is integrated with information and technology. Nurse informaticists in a hospital setting may work with customizing or improving electronic health records (EHR), provide analysis of patient data to improve patient care, or manage electronic healthcare systems. More than fifty percent of nurse informaticists work either in hospitals or acute care settings.8 Nurses may also aim for executive positions such as Chief Nursing Officer. Chief Nursing Officers work at the executive level in hospitals and represent both nurses and patients.9


When away from patients, nurses work at a “nurses station”. The nurses station is the hub of administrative work within a nursing unit. They are located in a central place within a patient floor. Patient charts and computers for entering patient data are provided at the nurses station. Physicians or nurse practitioners write orders at the nurses station and record patient information. Each nursing unit contains a medication rooms or a computerized medication system. Computerized systems help protect patients from medication errors as a variety of safeguards are built into the software. The computerized medication management system may be mobile or stationary.10


“’Silos,’ where everyone focuses on their specific area with little regard for the other parts of the system, are the worst thing that can happen within any organization. We have established multidisciplinary committees because in this day and age, you can’t make an independent decision without somehow impacting everyone else.” - Myrna Allen, Chief Nursing Officer/Chief Operations Officer at Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital11

1  “The U.S. Nursing Workforce: Trends in Supply and Education.” Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Professions National Center for Health Workforce Analysis. Accessed 12/4/15, available at: hrsa.gov

2 “A Closer Look at Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants.” H&HN: Hospitals & Health Networks 87, no. 3 (2013): 44. EBSCOhost(86194440).

3 Howell, Whitney L. J. “The Changing Role of Nurses. (cover Story).” H&HN: Hospitals & Health Networks 86, no. 3 (2012): 36 – 49. EBSCOhost(74530965).

4 “What is Nursing?” American Nurses Association. Accessed 10/27/2015, available at: www.nursingworld.org

5 “Advanced Practice Nurses.” American Nurses Association. Accessed 10/27/2015, available at: www.nursingworld.org

6 Ibid.

7 “A Closer Look at Nurse Practitioners….”

8 28 Wojcik, Joanne. “Nurse Practitioners Taker On Higher Risk Profile.” Business Insurance 48, no. 8 (2014): 0006. EBSCOhost(95653053).

9 Larkin, Howard. “CNO Frontliner-in-Chief.” H&HN: Hospitals & Health Networks 86, no. 5 (2012): 32 – 36. EBSCOhost(76169414).

10 Griffin, Donald J. Hospitals: What They Are and How They Work . 4th ed. 40 Tall Pine Drive, Sudbury, MA 01776, 978-443-5000, jblearning.com: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012.

11 Carlson, Keith. “Nursing Executive: Interview with Myrna Allen, RN, MSN.” Working Nurse. Accessed 12/4/15, available at: www.workingnurse.com



Not Required

Submitting Form...

The server encountered an error.

Message received. Thanks!

Copyright © 2016 Fusion Point Research, Inc.

Nursing encompasses a wide range of different specialist working on the front line of healthcare. Nurses promote patient health and provide care, while also shaping the policies and processes of the entire hospital. The profession is undergoing significant changes as more responsibilities are added to the role of nurses.