Nurses influence medical equipment and supplies purchases in their work environments. "In the private practice setting, as opposed to the hospital setting, they obviously wield a lot more purchasing power," says Bill Kamberis, sales manager at MeritDirect, which manages the Elsevier Healthcare files. "The smaller the practice, the more influence they have, but in a hospital setting, they also work with the purchasing departments to make the decisions. So they wield quite a bit [of influence] within that environment, as well."
The federal government now requires that nurses sit on product evaluation committees in their workplaces. This came about due to needle stick injuries and the fact that nurses weren't involved in decisions about IV tubing, syringes and the option to use needleless equipment that could prevent needle sticks. Because nurses are now on these committees, "one message to marketers is that nurses have more influence than they realize over what medications are prescribed and what equipment and supplies are used," says Mason.
Not only that, but nurses recommend medical products to patients, friends and family. "Even if they're not on a product evaluation committee, nurses are recommending products right and left, not only to the institution but to patients," says Mason.
Outside of the nursing category, nurses tend to purchase media like movies, personal and professional books, and magazines. Travel is another big category: "Travel probably works for nurses for the same reason it works for doctors," says Kamberis. "It's a well-paying job, and they work in a high-stress environment. So, when they have downtime, they like to enjoy it."
Nurses are also big on affordable splurges like makeup and jewelry, says Piedad Gomez-Paulhus, RN, a hospice nurse in Burrillville, R.I. "Nurses are so nurturing and give so much of themselves that they want to spoil themselves," Gomez-Paulhus says. "But they feel guilty about spending money on themselves so they want things that are not too expensive."