Magnet Recognition Program—Areas for Improvement
In 2015 we published an article in Advance for Nurses titled Magnet Status should be a floor, not a ceiling. We wrote the piece in response to the many nurses who had reached out to us expressing concerns that their hospitals were not fully committed to Magnet principles. Below are additional ideas about the Magnet program.
What is Magnet status?
Magnet status is an award given by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center (ANCC), an affiliate of the American Nurses Association, to hospitals that satisfy a set of criteria designed to measure the strength and quality of their nursing. A Magnet hospital is stated to be one where nursing delivers excellent patient outcomes, where nurses have a high level of job satisfaction, and where there is a low staff nurse turnover rate and appropriate grievance resolution. Magnet status is also said to indicate nursing involvement in data collection and decision-making in patient care delivery. The idea is that Magnet nursing leaders value staff nurses, involve them in shaping research-based nursing practice, and encourage and reward them for advancing in nursing practice. Magnet hospitals are supposed to have open communication between nurses and other members of the health care team, and an appropriate personnel mix to attain the best patient outcomes and staff work environment. We encourage all nurses to learn more about the principles of Magnet certification, and to consider appropriate nursing certification programs for their hospitals.
What Magnet is not
We understand that some nurses are enthusiastic about the Magnet program and feel that it promotes the important practices outlined above. However, it is important to be aware that others, notably nursing unions, have been critical of the way the Magnet program has been implemented. Some critics, including the California Nurses Association and the Massachusetts Nurses Association, have argued that the Magnet program is primarily a hospital promotion tool that resembles The Joint Commission in its too-close relations with hospital management. Such critics have also asserted that there is little evidence that nurses at Magnet hospitals are really much better off than nurses elsewhere. Many nurses have written to us to say that once Magnet certification has been awarded at their hospitals, and the hospitals have begun trumpeting the new status, the Magnet coordinators and teams are fired or sidelined, and the progress made through the Magnet application process is dismantled. Magnet should not be a program that gives the impression of nursing excellence without actually achieving it.
What can you do if you have concerns about how Magnet is being implemented?
The first step should be to try to work with the appropriate people at the institution you feel is not living up to the Magnet principles. We understand that the hospital's Magnet leadership may not be receptive, or that you may fear negative consequences, but it should be considered first. Some people actually do believe in what they're doing.
If that does not work, contact the Magnet program directly. Unfortunately, the ANCC's Magnet webpages could be more receptive to those who wish to provide feedback or express concerns. The contact us page (as of 7/2019) appears to consist of a customer service email for the American Nurses Association. But after doing more research, we believe we have found contact information for the Magnet leadership. So if you have worked at a Magnet hospital that you believe has fallen short of Magnet principles, we urge you to report your experiences to these current leaders of the Magnet Recognition Program:
Loressa Cole, RN, DNP, MBA, Vice President, Magnet Recognition Program and Pathway to Excellence;
Rebecca Graystone, RN, MS, MBA, Vice President, Magnet Recognition Program and Pathway to Excellence;
Maureen Lal, RN, MSN, Director, Magnet Recognition Program;
Christine Curto, RN, BSN, MS, Senior Manager, Magnet Appraisers and Program Support.
To the extent the Magnet program is not effectively promoting its important nurse empowerment goals, we would like to see it strengthened. In general, we hope that all nurses will work for strong, effective nursing credentialing programs to address the nursing crisis and improve patient care. Good luck!
Research comparing Magnet to non-Magnet hospitals. Mostly better, but not always.
Magnet hospitals make fiscal sense. J Healthc Manag. 2018 Nov-Dec;63(6):e131-e146. The Effect of the Magnet Recognition Signal on Hospital Financial Performance. Karim SA, et al.
Magnet hospitals have a 14% lower mortality risk and 12% lower failure to rescue rates. Matthew McHugh, Linda Aiken, et al. Also see the AMN Healthcare report.
Magnet hospitals provide better care for pressure ulcers, and had higher quality of care, innovations in practice and nursing excellence. But non-Magnet hospitals had better infection control and less post-operative sepsis. Non-Magnet hospitals had better staffing, with 30 RN hours per unit more per week. Colleen Goode, et al., 2011.
Magnet hospitals "have better work environments, a more highly educated nursing workforce, superior nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, and higher nurse satisfaction than non- Magnet hospitals." Linda Aiken, et al., 2011.
Magnet hospitals do not have any better working conditions than non-magnet hospitals. Alison Trinkoff and Meg Johantgen published in the Journal of Nursing Administration, 2010.
Go beyond Magnet by booking an event with nursing advocate Sandy Summers!
Empower your nurses or nursing students to embrace their role as patient advocates by bringing Sandy Summers for a dynamic speaking engagement tailored to your needs. The Truth About Nursing's executive director can help you take nursing and patient care to the next level! Here are some specifics about the presentation:
Beyond Magnet: How We Can Transform the Health Care Setting by Empowering Nursing
Every day, nurses change the world, making the difference between life and death, progress and decline, hope and despair. And the Magnet Recognition Program aims to enhance the role nurses play in health care settings. But there is another level. In this inspiring multi-media presentation, Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, founder and executive director of the Truth About Nursing, encourages nurses to think about the value of what they do and how they can unlock their full potential. Even apart from formal criteria a health care institution may meet, many nurses see a social environment that does not understand their true role in care, in a world over which they seem to have little influence. Research shows that media products shape and reinforce inaccurate ideas about nursing, discouraging career seekers, demoralizing practicing nurses, and driving the under-funding of clinical practice. And despite some progress in the Magnet era, too few decision-makers seem to know that nurses are skilled professionals who save lives and improve outcomes. Sandy Summers will explore proven strategies to help nurses raise awareness of their true value across the board. We can empower nurses to improve safety for patients, reduce nurse turnover, and enhance public health. Sandy shows you how.
From Brenda Kucirka, RN, PhD, who invited Sandy to Widener:
"I highly recommend inviting Sandy Summers to share the work of The Truth About Nursing with your organization. Sandy brings a powerful message and a call to action for nurses to advocate for the profession. Sandy was the invited guest speaker for our Nightingale Ceremony. She reminded us of the history of nursing and the contributions nurses make to supporting public health and the wellbeing of our communities. Students left feeling empowered to step into their new role, inspired by the work of nurses and the significance of their choice to join the profession.
For nurses in the audience and faculty, she reminded us of why we chose nursing as a profession and the imperative we have to shape the profession as she shared the "Truth About Nursing". Feedback from students, guests and faculty was very positive. It was essential information for our new graduates as they transition to practice. Sandy is an excellent speaker who delivers a message that all nurses would benefit from hearing. Her call to action is the antidote to anyone who is feeling disillusioned about our profession or just needs a reminder of just how much power we have."
Brenda Kucirka PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, CNE
Assistant Professor, Widener University School of Nursing
Go above and beyond the Magnet Program to become a truly excellent hospital
In June 2006, the Truth About Nursing's founder and executive director, Sandy Summers, sat on an expert panel about the Magnet Program for The World Congress Leadership Summit for Chief Nursing Officers in Chicago, Illinois. In this presentation she encouraged the Magnet Program to incorporate the following ideas:
Magnet facilities should not be reservoirs for dangerous organisms such as MRSA. Each magnet facility should:
Each Magnet facility should be a safe place for patients and nurses. They should be:
Green and organic environments
Magnet hospitals should be green facilities, that recycle, compost, separate out electronic waste and serve only cholesterol-free organic food in their food facilities.
See Health Care Without Harm; and
Greening the NICU: An Expert Interview With Kathi Randall, RNC, MSN, CNS, NNP-BC on Medscape.
Improve hospital policies to protect and support nurses
Strengthen nursing managers
Strengthen credentialing process
Collaboration between the professions
Magnet hospitals should be nursing institutions
Magnet hospitals should seek to provide the best care possible based on the latest research
Magnet hospitals should exist to provide humane care to all patients
Overall changes to the magnet program
The Magnet program should be a government program to which all hospitals must adhere.
Above is the list of changes and improvements to the Magnet program that our executive director presented to the World Congress of Nurses in June 2006. We would like to hear what all nurses (and patients) think of Magnet hospitals and our suggestions for improvement, especially those who are at magnet facilities.
Please let us know your experiences with Magnet hospitals at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
The list for suggested improvements to the Magnet program expressed herein are those of Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, the Truth About Nursing's founder and executive director. They do not necessarily reflect those of the Board Members or Advisory Panel of The Truth About Nursing.
Last updated July 4, 2019
(Formerly titled "What is Magnet status and how's that whole thing going?")