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Magnet Hospitals

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Registered nurses advocate for health promotion; as well as, take care of the sick and injured. Nurses also educate on the prevention of illness and injury. They give people medicine and treat wounds. Moreover, nurses give emotional support to patients and their families. No other health care professional has such a diverse and far-reaching role. Yet, due to lousy scheduling, no input on decisions, inadequate staffing, coupled with mandatory overtime, and too much paperwork, nurses everywhere, say that these poor working conditions are driving them to leave the profession. All of these conditions have made it nearly impossible for nurses to provide the quality care patients need. However, many nurses are hoping for the answers in Magnet recognition.

Magnet recognition of the "best" hospitals is the highest level of acknowledgment that an organization can attain solely recognizing nursing excellence. Magnet requires that hospitals demonstrate a strong commitment to the practice of professional nursing and to the practice setting, so that nurses and other health care providers can give patients their best care. Achieving Magnet "status" serves to attract and retain quality employees; furthermore, it helps consumers find health care facilities that have demonstrated a level of excellence in nursing care. Magnet status is an assurance for safe quality nursing care; resulting in many benefits for the patient, public, and health organizations.

Some people criticize Magnet recognition and argue that it is merely a promotion tool used to increase profits and to boost the hospitals image. This paper will look at the advantages and the disadvantages of applying for Magnet Recognition. Magnet status organizations create positive environments that have high nurse job satisfaction, involvement of its nurses in the decision-making process, along with excellent nurse and patient outcomes. It is ultimately in the hands of nurses to embrace the concept of Magnet recognition; therefore, it is recommended that nurses come together to work with their peers, nursing leaders, and health care organizations to attain Magnet recognition to demonstrate to the public the high-quality nursing care they provide.

In the early 1980s, some hospitals were experiencing a nursing shortage while other hospitals had a waiting list of nurse applicants. The question was why? What was the difference between those hospitals with a waiting list in comparison to those who were struggling with a shortage? As a response to these problems, the American Academy of Nursing's (AAN) Task Force on Nursing Practice in Hospitals carried out a study of hospitals that were able to attract and retain well-qualified nurses despite a national nursing shortage. The researchers found that forty-one hospitals out of the 163 surveyed described as "Magnet" hospitals had created an environment as "attractive" places for professional nurses to work.

These Magnet hospitals shared common organizational traits. Researchers found that the nursing environment was put together with minimal levels of hierarchy. The decisions concerning staffing and patient care were decentralized to include direct care nurses. Upper level management supported the patient care decisions made by nurses. Based upon their analysis the researchers identified and defined a set of standards that seemed to distinguish "Magnet" hospitals from others, thus named them the "Fourteen Forces of Magnetism."

In June of 1990, the American Nurses Association (ANA), through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), established a formal program to acknowledge excellence in nursing services called the "Magnet Nursing Services Recognition Program" (ANCC, 2004). ANCC Magnet hospital designation is based on a hospital's capability to meet these fourteen standards of nursing care. Hospitals were evaluated in several stages of written documentation and on-site evaluations by nurse experts. The program recognizes hospitals, medical centers, and health systems, which, like a powerful magnet, have the ability to attract and keep more registered nurses and other health care workers.

More importantly, Magnet recognition is much more than an award. A well thought-out approach to the ongoing quest of excellence in patient care, the Magnet Nursing Services Recognition Program provides a framework recognizing hospitals that have created an environment that supports nursing practice. Likewise, it focuses on professional autonomy, decision making at the bedside, nursing involvement in determining the nursing work environment in addition to professional education, career development, and nursing leadership.

Magnet accreditation has developed into a means to advocate a hospitals allure to both consumers and professional nurses. With Magnet recognition, nurses will be identified for their excellent work, thus the voice of nursing is respected and appreciated.

The research into Magnet hospitals has been based on the impact of registered nurses on patient outcomes; a growing body of research has established that both nurses and patients have better outcomes therefore, attaining recognition is beneficial. According to Ulrich, Buerhaus, Donelan, Norman, and Dittus (2007), in a study, is was established that nurses working in Magnet hospitals reported higher levels of job satisfaction, fewer needle-stick injuries, lower rates of nurse burnout, along with more control of practice and autonomy. On the other hand Stubenrauch, (2010) notes that there's little known about whether Magnet hospitals really offer nurses better working conditions. He found that although there were some differences in the working conditions between Magnet and non-Magnet hospitals the Magnet group reported their duties to be physically less demanding, however, only slightly so. Furthermore, Ulrich and her colleagues say being a patient in a Magnet hospital is associated with fewer mortality rates, shorter lengths of stay and higher overall patient satisfaction. It has also been reported that Magnet hospitals have less nurse turnover, which in turn saves the hospital money (Ulrich et al. (2007).

In a Magnet hospital, the rate of nurse turnover is lower due to the nurse's involvement in the operations of the hospital. For instance, Magnet hospital shapes the nursing practice to be evidence-research based (Lundmark, 2008). Because of the support, nurses receive from Magnet hospitals and the fact that these hospitals promote the enhancement of the nursing profession; nurses will less likely leave their job. This is also facilitated by the fact that Magnet recognized hospitals offer their nurses a better work environment. Research has proven this. For example, when U.S. News & World Report publishes its annual showcase



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