Hospital administrators across the nation advocate the merits of Magnet designation. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), an affiliate of the American Nurses Association, awards Magnet status to hospitals that satisfy designated criteria that measure the strength and quality of the institution’s nursing care.

What Are Magnet Hospitals?

Magnet-designated hospitals are regarded as the pinnacle of nursing practice, leadership, and innovation. A Magnet designation stands on five pillars: transformational leadership, structural empowerment, professional practice, innovation, and empirical outcomes.

More than ever, hospitals seek to attract the best nurses, physicians, and ancillary medical staff. Magnet hospitals appear to fare better with these recruiting metrics, but do the benefits outweigh the costs? The return on investment requires measurable patient care metrics, a superior nursing environment involved in hospital decision-making, and higher net patient revenue than non-Magnet hospitals. With consumers looking to hospitals for quality, hospitals seek to raise the bar with a Magnet designation as a roadmap for excellence.

Finding a Hospital with Magnet Status

With nurses becoming more valuable amid the growing shortage, nurses can leverage their demand by exploring open nursing jobs and finding a Magnet hospital that meets their needs. How do you apply to a Magnet hospital? As with any hospital, search the institution’s website and locate the nursing employment link. Use our Magnet Showcase to review Magnet-designated hospitals to research your next employment opportunity.

Safety Across the Board

Hospitals are constantly striving to improve patient safety. However, a safer work environment extends beyond patient safety through lower nurse-to-patient ratios. A Magnet appointment is an investment into a safer physical work environment for the nurses. Reduced physical injuries and decreased blood and body fluid exposure rates translate into healthier nurses and reduced costs.

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Improved Outcomes

When nurses have an elevated level of job satisfaction, patient outcomes improve. Low staff nurse turnover, a path to grievance resolution, decentralized decision-making, participation in data collection, and involvement in patient care delivery encourage and reward nurses through advancement in nursing practice. A Magnet designation validates the hospital’s mission.

Reducing Burnout

The COVID-19 pandemic left the nursing landscape littered with shortages and premature departures. Nurses seek engagement and empowerment; competition is fierce for high-quality, professional nurses. As health care grows, patients are becoming more complex. Shift work is demanding, with long pressure-filled hours. If you include the mental, physical, and emotional factors that fuel attrition in nursing, obtaining a Magnet designation can lead an institution toward an increase in the quality of the work environment.

Professional Improvement

Within health care, quality improvement is a sustained culture of practice improvement. The professional development of nurses is a tenet of Magnet: having employers support nursing autonomy and empowerment can lead to cooperation in leadership and vision. To succeed in health care, interdisciplinary communication and a collaborative mission of nursing practice can result in better partnerships with hospital leadership.

The Costs

Obtaining Magnet status can be expensive for smaller institutions. It takes over four years to complete the process, with an average of over two million dollars invested by the hospital. Proponents will argue that Magnet designation will offset the associated cost with higher net patient revenue and improved outcomes. A Magnet-designated hospital receives an adjusted net increase in inpatient income of $104.22–$127.05 per discharge. This translates into an added $1,229,770–$1,263,926 in income per year. Hospitals achieve payback from Magnet Status in two to three years using this data.

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Critics argue little evidence exists that Magnet hospitals’ nurses are better off compared to their non-award-bearing competition. More than an impression of nursing excellence is needed to justify the added time and cost for what some professionals consider a marketing gimmick. For nurses weighing the claimed benefits of a supportive work environment, autonomy, less risk of burnout, opportunities for education and research, and the real-world practice environment of a Magnet hospital is imperative. So, nurses, do your research.

We’ll be at the 2022 ANCC National Magnet Conference® October 13-15 at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA. Stop by booth 2018. We look forward to seeing you there!

Renee Hewitt
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