Magnet certification draws nurses to hospitals by documenting that these facilities are good places for them to work. But does magnet also suggest a positive environment for hospitalists and other physicians?
Ask Kathy Sparger, RN, MSN, chief nursing officer at South Miami Hospital in South Miami, Fla., who says her magnet facility perpetuates teamwork and collaboration in a way that creates a positive professional atmosphere for both nurses and physicians. She’s also emphatic that it enables high-quality care.
South Miami Nurses Kathleen Gori, RN, Melissa Korman, RN, and Zully Darby, RN, show off their magnet pride.
The mother of at least one patient likely agrees. Sparger tells the story of a baby born in the hospital with compromised circulation in his leg.
“When he was born, his leg was black,” she recalls. “We thought we would have to amputate.”
Devastated by the prospect of this decision, the physician-nurse team searched frantically for another solution. Then Sparger remembered an instance from years before when an elderly patient’s compromised circulation was resolved through the use of medicinal leeches. While the team had never heard of this procedure being used for an infant, they trusted Sparger and decided to follow her suggestion.
“We started therapy that night, and the baby went home with his leg intact,” she says, adding that she can recollect “hundreds of such scenarios” where the teamwork between physicians and nurses enabled positive outcomes. This is the essence of magnet, she notes: “Nurses know that their opinions are valued, so there is a better partnership with physicians.”
WHAT IS MAGNET?
Magnet certification is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a means of identifying hospitals that value nurses and provide optimal environments in which these professionals practice. According to ANCC, magnet designation is an important recognition of nurses’ work, the quality of a facility’s nursing program, and the importance of nurses to the entire organization’s success.
The concept of magnet dates back to the early 1980s. In 1981, the American Academy of Nurses developed the criteria for Magnet certification, which covered three broad areas:
- Administration: Participatory and supportive management style; well-prepared, decentralized organizational structure; “adequate” nurse staffing; deployment of opportunities;
- Professional practice: Professional practice models of care delivery; professional availability of specialist advice; emphasis on teaching staff responsibilities;
- Professional development: Planned staff orientation; emphasized in-service/competency-based clinical ladders; management development.1
—Allen Kaiser, MD
A 1983 Magnet Hospital study identified variables found in a “magnet-like” environment, although these evolved over the next decade into 14 key forces used to determine magnet status.2-4 These include quality of nursing leadership, organizational structure, management style, personnel policies and programs, professional models of care, quality of care, autonomy, and quality improvement.
Applying for magnet certification is an elaborate process that involves extensive and detailed documentation, site visits, and interviews. Staff participation includes nurses, administrators, and physicians—among others. The certification process can take a year or more, and facilities must recertify every four years.
Magnet-certified facilities are required to submit quality data for the ANCC to track. However, the agency states on its Web site that “independently sponsored research” has shown that magnet-certified facilities:
- Consistently outperform nonmagnet organizations;
- Deliver better patient outcomes;
- Have shorter lengths of patient stays;
- Enjoy increased nurse retention rates;
- Report higher rates of nursing job satisfaction; and
- Report higher patient satisfaction.5