As you research potential nursing programs and the nursing profession, you’ll undoubtedly run across the phrase “Magnet hospital”—most likely in the context of discussions about the future of nursing. So what exactly does this mean? Is it a good thing to be a Magnet hospital? What difference does it make to a future nurse?
“Magnet” status is simply an award given by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC), an affiliate of the American Nurses Association. In the words of the ANCC, “The Magnet Recognition Program® recognizes healthcare organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence, and innovations in professional nursing practice.” Magnet designation is intended to stand for high quality nursing, meaning not only do the nurses deliver excellent patient outcomes, but their work environment and level of respect is such that they have a high level of job satisfaction and low turnover rate. Hospitals with Magnet status are seen as valuing nurses and involving them in key patient care decisions.
Other benefits to an organization with Magnet status can include:
- The ability to attract and retain talent: Magnet hospitals often have an increased RN retention rate and lower turnover rate than non-Magnet hospitals.
- Improvements in patient care, safety, and satisfaction: Several studies examining the links between nurses’ work environments and patient safety find positive results, such as decreased patient mortality rates, falls, and injuries.
- A collaborative culture where nurses feel empowered: The Magnet model provides a structured approach to engaging nurses in decision-making, which helps them stay energized.
- Advanced nursing standards and practice: Non-Magnet organizations may look to Magnet organizations as a role model for nursing operations.
- Financial and business success: Because of the positive environment for nurses, many Magnet hospitals report reduced costs in their nursing operations and a more positive reception from the industry, the press, and potential donors
However, some critics of the Magnet designation say there is little concrete evidence that nurses at Magnet organizations feel any more satisfied or empowered than nurses elsewhere. And the Magnet designation, which is difficult to earn, only lasts for four years. The application process for Magnet recognition– known as the “Journey to Magnet Excellence”– requires hospitals to demonstrate excellence in patient, nurse, and organizational results. Achieving Magnet recognition typically requires the commitment of the entire organization, from the executive leadership to the nursing staff. The process requires both extensive documentation as well as site visits from trained Magnet evaluators. For complete information on the process and the benefits, visit the ANCC website at www.nursingworld.org/ancc.
But why does any of this matter to you, the future nurse? Or to the future of nursing in general? For one thing, you may wish to make Magnet status a consideration factor in your decision about where to take that first nursing job, or even use it as a way to develop a short list of desirable employers (The list of Magnet-recognized organizations is always evolving). As a nursing student, you might also want to see if any of the organizations with whom you’ll be doing clinical rotations have Magnet status—they can be a great place to develop nurse mentors. Probably the biggest thing to be aware of, though, is how a hospital’s Magnet status impacts its requirements for new hires.
Because hospitals must provide empirical data about outcomes as part of the Magnet recognition process, those interested in acquiring or retaining Magnet status often seek to hire nurses with a higher education—meaning a bachelor’s degree. Nurses without a bachelor’s degree can and do certainly work at Magnet hospitals, but forward-thinking organizations interested in the long-term development, satisfaction, and performance of their nursing staff often place an emphasis on hiring BSN-educated nurses. Our downloadable guide, “The Relationship between Magnet Status, a BSN, and the Nursing Shortage,” explains in more detail how this factor is helping to shape the future of nursing.
So what’s the bottom line on Magnet status? There are three things a nursing student or future nurse should remember:
- Magnet recognition is definitely a popular topic within the nursing field, and many hospitals are willing to put in the time and effort to achieve it.
- In general, Magnet-designated healthcare organizations are thought to have a strong commitment to nursing excellence and to nurse empowerment, though the same could be said of some non-Magnet organizations
- Those who enter the nursing field with a BSN, particularly from a prestigious university like Northeastern, may well have better luck landing a job at a Magnet hospital than non-BSN nurses.