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How Does a Hospital Achieve Magnet® Status?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
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To achieve Magnet® status, hospitals need to meet a set of criteria, apply, and undergo an evaluation process. This recognition is awarded to hospitals with a record for excellence in nursing care. It can be a recruitment tool for hospitals that want to attract nursing talent as well as an incentive for patients. Medical outcomes can be better in a Magnet® facility as a result of high standards of nursing care.

Facilities with an interest in this certification must have a designated chief nursing officer who oversees one or more nursing departments. They also need a clear nursing management structure, a confidential feedback system to allow nurses to report issues, and evidence of regulatory compliance. This includes health and safety as well as patient privacy requirements. Applicants submit documentation to support their eligibility when they prepare a request for Magnet® status.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which awards Magnet® status, looks at five main areas when it evaluates candidates. One is empirical quality results, which involves showing positive patient outcomes and nursing practice based in evidence-based medicine. Facilities also need to demonstrate “exemplary professional practice” and must promote innovation through research and other measures to improve patient care. These elements of nursing practice can contribute to better outcomes for patients, and a more challenging work environment for nurses.

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In addition, the organization looks at the leadership structure in the facility and determines whether nurses are empowered actors in the hospital setting. They should feel comfortable expressing opinions, making suggestions, and actively advocating for patients. Opportunities for feedback may be confidential as well as public, and members of a Magnet® hospital should feel like valued members of a team. All of these five traits must be met for the organization to award the credential.

Once a hospital earns Magnet® status, it needs to work to maintain the status. It should continue to meet all the eligibility qualifications and should provide evidence that the five Magnet® principles are also met. The ANCC can revoke status if it feels a facility no longer deserves it, and also performs periodic reviews to check on the facilities it credentials. Claiming Magnet® status when it has not been awarded can be grounds for legal penalties, as it would be a misrepresentation of the services offered at the hospital and the quality of its nursing care.

Not having Magnet® status does not necessarily mean a hospital’s nursing care is poor. Some facilities offer excellent patient care but do not qualify because they are too small to promote research and similar activities. Other hospitals may also be waiting on applications.

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