Magnet Designations Attract Nurses

As the nursing shortage crisis continues to threaten our national health care system, hospitals continue to evaluate various ways in which to recruit and retain nursing professionals. One innovative approach is the Magnet Recognition Program. Developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the Magnet Recognition Program recognizes health care organizations that provide nursing excellence. To date, 260 American health care facilities boast Magnet status, including Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, which became the first hospital to receive Magnet Recognition by the ANCC.

“Although Magnet Recognition is the highest honor bestowed by the American Nurses Association (ANA) for nursing excellence, it is truly a hospital-wide award,” says Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, senior vice president for Patient Care and chief nursing officer at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Faced with severe nursing vacancies during the 1980’s, nursing leaders began studying nurses’ impressions about their profession and what satisfied or dissatisfied them in their jobs. This prompted the ANCC to create the Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP) to help spread successful nursing practices and strategies.

Elaine Scherer, MA, BSN, RN, director of the Magnet Recognition Program®, explains that “the MRP was created to promote quality in an environment that supports professional practice, identify excellence in the delivery of nursing to patients and residents, and provide a mechanism for the dissemination of best practices in nursing.”

The Magnet designation process includes evaluating qualitative factors in nursing, known as “Forces of Magnetism,” that exemplify excellence in nursing. The coveted title of Magnet designation is granted only to hospitals that undergo a rigorous, voluntary evaluation process, which can take hospitals from two to seven years. Only about 15 percent of hospitals that apply go on to receive this title. 

For Massachusetts General Hospital, becoming a Magnet facility has strengthened the hospital’s appeal for health care professionals. The MRP designation is not only improving nursing standards in individual hospitals, but helping to combat the nursing shortage nationwide. “Magnet status means we are an extraordinary hospital and have better outcomes for our patients,” says Erickson. “It means we foster an environment of teamwork and our nurses are exceptional.”

The Commission on Magnet, the governing body of MRP, is working to expand and improve the program, including working to increase the positive outcomes of the program, creating changes in re-designation, and ultimately sharing data regarding Magnet facilities so that research in these areas continues to evolve.

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