How to Achieve a Magnet Nursing Designation

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Written by Kayla Tyson Editor, B2C Content, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Diana Campion, MSN, APRN, ANP-C Education Development Nurse, Content Writer, IntelyCare
Nurse opening the door of a magnet nursing facility

If you’ve spent time in the healthcare sphere, you’ve likely heard of Magnet nursing facilities. This distinctive endorsement — granted by The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) — is officially entitled the Magnet Recognition Program. Since the 1990s, the ANCC has been evaluating healthcare facilities based on their nursing excellence, awarding Magnet recognition to those who uphold rigorous standards.

When an organization achieves Magnet status, they are more likely to bring in and retain top talent and achieve excellent patient outcomes, among other benefits. As a result, you may be wondering what it would take for your facility to qualify. In this article, we’ll explore how Magnet recognition works and outline the accreditation process.

What Is the Magnet Nursing Model?

Magnet designation is based on an organization’s ability to equip and empower nursing professionals, provide exemplary care, and commit to continuous improvement. In 2008, the original Magnet recognition program’s 14 standards were reorganized and simplified into five key components of Magnet nursing facilities:

  • Transformational leadership: Leaders display vision, clinical knowledge, influence, and nursing experience to meet the demands of the future.
  • Structural empowerment: Facilities have systems in place to support nurses through shared decision-making, professional development and access to resources.
  • Exemplary professional practice: Staff displays a commitment to the best-practices of nursing, leading to improvements in patient care, family involvement, community impact, and collaboration with colleagues.
  • New knowledge, innovations and improvements: Organizations contribute to advancements in the nursing profession through a culture of innovation and improvement.
  • Empirical quality results: Organizations that have the first four components will benefit from improved outcomes as a natural byproduct. Facilities must provide data in support of these results throughout the application process.

Organizations that meet ANCC’s criteria in these five areas can choose to apply for Magnet recognition. This in-depth approval process can provide a number of benefits to your organization.

Why Aim for Magnet Nursing Accreditation?

There are many reasons a healthcare organization might strive for Magnet recognition. In fact, research shows several benefits of Magnet recognition: higher levels of nurse satisfaction, lower staff turnover, improved patient outcomes, and increased nurse autonomy — factors that can play a role in a nurse’s decision to remain in the profession. These positive outcomes can lead to decreased nurse burnout. Also, the process of applying for Magnet recognition can lead to positive culture changes throughout your organization.

These benefits are met with rigorous Magnet accreditation standards, which involve extensive participation from staff members, comprehensive evidence of patient care, and application fees. Some find these added costs and responsibilities are disadvantages of Magnet status hospitals because they add to the workload of nursing professionals and utilize limited hospital funds.

There are many factors to consider when deciding if Magnet recognition is best for your organization. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of pursuing Magnet status as you navigate the decision-making process.

How Can Your Facility Achieve Magnet Designation?

1. Check Your Readiness

The first step in the process is to conduct a self-assessment and become familiar with the ANCC eligibility requirements. The assessment will help identify your facility’s areas of strength and where improvements are needed, revealing the steps required to produce a quality application.

2. Develop a Plan

Once you’ve identified areas of growth, you may want to appoint a program director who can take the lead in your Magnet application process. With the guidance of the director, your organization should create a strategic plan that includes clear steps, goals, and timelines. Since the Magnet application process requires a high level of staff participation, make sure to communicate these plans clearly to the whole staff.

3. Gather Documentation

As part of your application, you’ll need to include written evidence related to patient outcomes, nursing practices, staff certifications, and the overall performance of your organization. After analyzing ANCC’s Magnet pathway documents, we identified the following areas that will require documentation:

  • mentoring programs
  • nurse leadership
  • specialty certifications
  • support for new nurses
  • commitment to community health
  • nurse impact on decision-making process
  • performance feedback
  • educational opportunities

4. Submit the Application

Once you’ve gathered the required documentation, you can move forward with submitting your application. This process can be completed online and requires an application and appraisal fee, which will vary in price depending on the size of your facility.

5. Prepare for a Site Visit

After reviewing your application materials, the ANCC will conduct a site visit to verify the information from your application. An appraisal team will monitor your facility and develop a report that they will send to the ANCC Commission on Magnet, which will consider your application materials and make a final decision about whether to grant the recognition.

6. Maintain Accreditation Standards

To maintain Magnet nursing status, your organization will be required to complete a re-evaluation process every four years. This will involve a similar documentation process as the initial application and an additional application cost. Also, each year your facility maintains Magnet status, you’ll need to pay an annual fee.

Stay Informed and Achieve Your Potential

Regardless of whether your facility is a Magnet nursing facility, you can always improve your staffing game. This starts with a keen understanding of the forces and trends that impact the nursing industry. Get the latest nursing facility news and tips, delivered free to your inbox.