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What Is a Magnet Hospital?

Professionals and organizations in the health care industry may have noticed a “Magnet Hospital” designation for some facilities. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) grants this status to hospitals in order to recognize that facility’s efforts to value nursing talent and reach the highest quality of patient care.

Whether you’re a nursing professional looking for work with an excellent organization, a health care facility attempting to attract top nursing candidates, or a patient seeking medical care, it’s important to be familiar with what Magnet Recognition means and how a facility becomes a Magnet hospital.

What Does It Mean to Be a Magnet Hospital?

Hospitals that are part of the ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program hold their nurses to the program’s high standard of excellence. 

As part of that excellence, hospitals take steps to support nurses and help them develop their skills and careers. Patients can be assured that they’re receiving the best care from nurses who are valued by their employer.

The History of the Magnet Recognition Program

In 1990, the American Nurses Association (ANA) Board of Directors approved and created the Magnet Program

The program is based on a 1983 study conducted by the American Academy of Nursing. Researchers in that study researched facilities to determine which ones showed outstanding nurse recruitment and retention. 

The shared characteristics that they identified that were shared by the outstanding hospitals are known now as the “Forces of Magnetism.” Magnet hospitals are judged based on those Forces to determine whether or not they adhere to or should be allowed to join the program.

The University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA, was the first hospital to receive Magnet Recognition in 1994. In 2000, the program expanded to recognizing organizations outside of the United States. Today, only 8% of U.S. hospitals are Magnet hospitals.

What Is the Magnet Model?

Initially, there were 14 Forces of Magnetism, but a 2005 update consolidated those Forces into 5 Model Components for the Magnet Model. The following five components comprise the full Magnet Model and the basis for Magnet recognition:

1.Transformational Leadership

It takes more than telling people what to do in order to be a transformational leader. Strong experience in the nursing realm, vision, and influence inspire a truly transformational leader to create unique approaches to old problems. 

Change is a constant in medicine, and the Magnet Model asks its recognized facilities to embody transformational ways of thinking to create stable and long-lasting change for the future. 

This includes a strong senior leadership team with an equally strong future vision. They’re not there to solve problems or fix broken systems but rather to reimagine the future of health care and transform these systems to match that vision.

2. Structural Empowerment

According to the Magnet Model, structural integrity and an innovative environment create an environment where the organization’s mission and values can come to life. That environment leads to the achievement of transformational outcomes by building upon the visions of strong leadership. 

As a result, the staff is empowered by strong partnerships among the community, strategic planning, and solid policies to accomplish the organization’s goals.

3. Exemplary Professional Practice

The Magnet Model states that the true essence of a Magnet organization ultimately depends upon exceptional nursing. 

This means encompassing all aspects of nursing. Facilities encourage and empower their staff to apply exemplary nursing skills towards all patients, families, communities, and teammates in addition to embodying new knowledge and learning. 

To the Magnet Model, the potential of a practice filled with opportunity is more important than an already strong establishment that’s set in outdated ways.

4. New Knowledge, Innovation, and Improvements

The Magnet Model calls for health care professionals and leaders to have a drive for innovation and information. In order to do so, they must redefine current systems and practices in order to further their relationships with patients and their communities. 

This includes the creation of new models of care that apply current evidence, new evidence, and other contributions to nursing sciences.

5. Empirical Quality Results

Quality of care is not quantified in the current Magnet Model. Therefore, the program encourages Magnet-recognized facilities to find their own firm foundation to judge how they have made a difference in terms of quality of care. 

For facilities, the outcome of any of their innovations must consider nursing, workforce, patient care, and organizational references. As Magnet facilities create positive outcomes and successes to form data, the Magnet Model will have more ability to quantify results and gain an overall picture of the facility and the program as a whole.

How Hospitals Can Apply for Magnet Status

Hospitals that want Magnet Recognition can apply to the ANCC program for consideration. To apply, an organization must meet the following criteria:

  • The organization must already exist in the health care system and include one or more nursing settings that have the single authority of a Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) responsible for maintaining the standards of nursing care. The CNO must be a participant in the highest governing of the organization’s decision making processes.
  • Nurse managers and nurse leaders must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing.
  • Applicants must already have the ANA’s Nursing Administration: Scope and Standards of Practice in place throughout their nursing program.
  • Applicants must comply with the regulation of all federal, state, and local laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services among other agencies and labor boards.

The application process includes the purchase of the Magnet Application Manual, an application fee, and a mandatory visit to your facility in addition to regular follow-ups on educational and labor requirements.

The Benefits of Magnet Hospitals for Health Care Employers, Nurses & Patients

For facilities, it might seem like unnecessary trouble to apply for Magnet Recognition. Nurses, meanwhile, might wonder if it’s worth the effort to compete for jobs at these facilities. 

A Magnet designation benefits employers, nurses, and patients in the following ways:

Magnet Hospital Benefits for Health Care Employers

Magnet status offers a number of opportunities to attract top talent as well as improve patient care and satisfaction. 

Additionally, Magnet facilities find advancements in nursing status and financial successes. This is mainly a result of the lengthy application process and rigorous standards that they need to meet and maintain to keep their facilities in the best shape. 

Not only does this environment improve the quality of care for current staff and patients, but it attracts quality staff and eager patients in the future. 

Magnet Hospital Benefits for Nurses

Nurses who work at Magnet facilities are known for having higher job satisfaction and a lower turnover rate. Good nurse-to-patient staffing ratios and a more highly educated workforce also create a less stressful environment than other facilities. 

Additionally, nurses who work at these types of facilities are encouraged and empowered to progress in their own careers. Magnet facilities ensure their nurses are in line for the most up-to-date educational opportunities, even offering preceptorship programs for continuing knowledge.

Magnet Hospital Benefits for Patients

Magnet hospitals tend to show a decrease in patient mortality and a higher level of patient care due to the dedication of their nurses and the environment they work in. Nurses have a healthy level of competition in Magnet hospitals as they strive to further their certification specialties, in turn increasing the quality of patient care.

Magnet facilities have incredible benefits and are revered in their patient care and nursing satisfaction. Not only does this recognition program improve the company’s overall standing, but it makes for an improved work environment for staff and the guarantee of better quality care for patients.

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