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Hospice Consultant With Christina Fortner and Syed Rizvi (2022)

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Syed Rizvi: Hello, everyone and welcome to another edition of senior living with Syed. I am your host Syed Rizvi, and I'm with Senex Memory Advisors. Senex Memory Advisors are dementia specialists providing memory care living options for people with dementia at no cost to families using proprietary cost-saving tools. Today on our show we have Christina Fortner; she is a nurse and also a hospice as all with Good Shepherd Hospice. We're gonna talk with Christina about healthcare marketing, and her transition from being a nurse to healthcare marketing position in Temecula. Let's get started and welcome Christina to our show.

Christina Fortner: I'm Christina Fortner, and I work for Good Shepherd Hospice. I got started in marketing back in 2010. I started with an infusion company and got into the habit or got into the role of doing teaches in the hospital. So, I started a little bit of the marketing from the inside out by being a clinical liaison, and then as I continued into that job and left that company, I started full time with the hospice company doing marketing from the outside in. I've been doing hospice now for close to seven years. So, to back up a little bit and give you some reasons for me going into nursing; I started nursing school shortly after my dad had died. Honestly, I knew that I was gonna go to college , and didn't really know what I was gonna do, didn't have a decision which way I was gonna go. I had to find a job to help pay for my college, so I actually started out as a bath girl in a nursing home, and that kind of not only pushed me in towards the nursing side, but the way my dad signed me up for classes at college also led me to take in all my basics and turns out I'm pretty good in biology and chemistry, so it just kind of led to me going into nursing, and nursing was easier for me than some. I just kind of went that direction, and so again I've been a nurse for 25+ years. It wasn't your traditional nurse out of nursing school they expect everybody to really do your time on the floor, do impatient nursing. I am not an impatient nurse; I've always worked outpatient. I've done home health infusions in the home, I've done hospice, I've done a little bit of everything I started out as an agency nurse within a year and a half of getting my nursing license which is not really heard of. I ended up at MD Anderson as an emergency nurse and didn't leave for close to 10 years. I went from MD Anderson to Texas Children. I don't seem to be able to get away from the whole death and dying aspect. It is not really what I thought I was going to do. I actually thought I was going to work with babies and I'd be rocking your babies in the nursery till the end of time, but I keep getting thrown with either cancer kids, adult cancer something along with that. Turns out I'm actually good with death and dying so for whatever the reason, the way the world works, I keep getting thrown back into it one after another and so I gave it a shot and went the grim Reaper and sell hostage. So I have been doing that now for close to seven years. I actually enjoy it. It's not easy for nurses to go from being a clinical person into sales. A lot of times you will find on teams that is the sales and the clinical team that kind of buttheads. I feel like I can actually see both sides of it and understand it. You need both entities in order to form as a whole. I personally enjoy it. I like the thought of getting able to go in there and talk to everybody and really kind of educate them on what Hospice can be. Unfortunately, when my dad passed away, he wasn't able to go on Hospice. They didn't have a Hospice within 200 miles from Temecula he was at and he ended up committing suicide because of it, because there wasn't any place that could help him. And so I guess I feel drawn towards doing the Hospice, taking care of patients, if anything, educating people to know that this is one of the last free benefits that they actually get and might as well take advantage of it doesn't mean that they're going to die within 24 hours or die the next day.

Marketing Nowadays, so if you ask me, if I'd go into marketing starting fresh out, brand new with it, the day and age it is now, I'm not necessarily sure that I would do that. With the COVID crisis that we've had to go through, it's much more difficult for new marketers to get in and to be seen. I'm fortunate enough, having started when I did that, I was able to get in, walk through the hospitals and haven't been clinical and wear scrubs on a regular basis instead of disco dresses and high heels. I can mostly get into most of the places in the hospital. That is not true nowadays. If I didn't already have my contacts before all of COVID, I'm not sure that I would be as successful as a marketer, if I had to start brand new, calling people, talking to them on the phone, sending emails versus people that I've already seen, I've already met, I've already spoken with, I already know personally.

So what advice can I give to people who want to go into healthcare marketing? The biggest thing is know what you're going into, know either healthcare know marketing, know the people that you're going to go and market to, know the product that you're marketing, know the service that you're marketing, understand what it is and understand what makes you different or what the services that you're providing and how you can be indispensable to your referral sources and what makes you different, what makes you stand out. Those are the things that are going to make you most important and make you valuable to your referral sources, and that's going to keep you ahead of the game. What I would recommend to anybody that's looking at going to nursing school, number one is that you better know your chemistry and you better know your biology. Be planned to work hard. If you can get it done in a crash year now they're providing, I guess, nursing school. You can get it all done in a year. If that's really logistical for you, then do it. If not, take your time out and do it. You've got to be passionate about it, you've got to really want to take care of patients. People are not easy to take care of. People will fight you. They're not going to say nice things. It doesn't matter if you are the best nurse in the world and you try to do things, you aren't always going to be the one that everybody views positively or you're not always going to be the one that everybody's happy with, you're not always going to be the best one on the floor. People are sick. They don't feel good. You're going to do the best that you can. Burnout is high in nursing. If you can do anything, remember that the AIDS on the floor matter. Stop. Help them if you can. If you're a nurse, if you really want to be the one making this decision, go be a nurse practitioner. Take the extra time. Go back to school. Do it. Continue. Go all the way from when you get your RN, you're registered bachelor's in nursing, then go right on into nurse practitioner school. Continue. If you want to make changes, don't complain. Be the change. Make the changes.

So where I feel healthcare marketing is going is that, yes, you're definitely going to deal more with social media platforms. You're definitely going to deal more with people that are on the Internet. Is there going to be a place for us that actually have the relationships? I want to say yes. The reason for that is you're still going to deal with people who give out referrals that are not on social media, that are not suave to platforms, or even though hospitals are pushing that direction and then people are going that direction. You still got some old school referral sources that aren't necessarily going that way or even attempting to go that way. I think that we are all going to work together in conjunction to continue to be a strong marketing force, but I still think there's going to be a need for getting in and being in front of people and being able to prove that you've got a product or that you've got a service that they're going to be able to meet or going to be able to use. You can't always sell people on a product via a computer. You're going to have to have ,especially in Hospice, the one to one, the face to face, the connection, the bond that you make when you sit down and talk to somebody about their loved one who's dying, that a computer cannot give you the empathy or the need that you have when they're going through a crisis and they need a human being in front of them that says: hey look, I got you, I understand what you're going through. You don't get warm fuzzies from a computer screen.

So where do I think healthcare is headed? I think healthcare is headed to more home physician visits. I think it's headed to definitely more social platforms in the sense of you're going to do more telehealth visits with the doctors. I think you're going to see a lot more of that. I do think that will still have marketers. I don't think we'll have as many marketers. I think they'll be probably be more clinical liaison. So I do think you'll see more nurses, more clinical people in marketing, just because you're you'll be killing two birds with 1 stone in the sense that you can get consent signs, you can do education, you can do teaching, and then if you get the right kind of person, then you can also combine that with the marketing aspect of that. But definitely we're going to see a lot more home visits. In order to keep patients at home, insurance companies are going to pay for these doctors to do doctor visits, nurse practitioners to cover their care, CAS to cover their cares in the home, to keep these patients at home, to keep them out of the hospital. Insurance companies are going to pay for this. If they're already paying for this now, they're going to continue to pay for this. It's going to save their bottom line and they're going to keep the cost down.

Okay, so when I'm not working, which pretty much all the time, I am working, I take dance classes in ballroom dancing. I have been known to go and compete. I enjoy that. I started that after my daughter, who is in her 20s now, after she graduated high school, I decided I wasn't going to end up 300 on the couch. So I thought, well, what am I going to do? And what would I do if Alison was here? And I thought, well, I would sign her up for a class, so I signed myself up for a class. So I've been doing that now for eight years. I enjoy it when I'm not trying to perfect that at home. I have my two dogs, Rescues White Lightning and Magnar. Enjoy both of them. They're my big old babies, close to 100 apiece, so 200 of pure puppy love. And then I will also be a cocoa or aka grandmother in April to a sweet, juicy, fat blueberry boy. I call him Blueberry because that's the size he was when I found out that this is what I would be a grandmother. But I prefer to go by Coco. So that's what I'm going to go with and that's pretty much.

Well, thank you, Christina. That was very informative. I hope you enjoyed the conversation and listening to her about healthcare marketing and what people looking to go into nursing and marketing positions within the healthcare system should be on the look. That's all we have for this episode. We'll be back next time with another guest. We hope to see you again.

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