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MAGNET HOSPITALS: How did the idea come about?

During the nursing shortage of the early 1980s, there were an estimated 100,000 vacancies nationwide and inadequate staffing in over three-quarters of U.S. hospitals.  In an effort to alleviate the shortage, the American Academy of Nursing engaged four AAN fellows to choose a topic and conduct research on nurses employed at hospitals.  The author of this brief article – Muriel Poulin – and her colleagues Margaret McClure, Margaret Sovie and Mabel Wandelt, decided to study the characteristics of hospitals that were doing a good job of retaining nursing staff.  They surveyed 41 hospitals and prepared a report that served as the basis of the later Magnet Recognition Program.

When I stop to consider how much the program has progressed, I cannot get over it.  It has been a remarkable evolution that now includes hundreds of healthcare organizations around the world…” (Dr. Poulin, page 73).


Poulin, M. (2017, February). A remarkable journey: Why the Magnet Recognition Program continues to resonate today. JONA. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 47(2), 72-73. Click here for publisher’s website: http://journals.lww.com/jonajournal/Abstract/2017/02000/A_Remarkable_Journey__Why_the_Magnet_Recognition.2.aspx

American Nurses Credentialing Center. (2017). ANCC Magnet Recognition Program. Click here: http://www.nursecredentialing.org/Magnet  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2003 rc@aha.org

Benefits of magnet hospitals supported in large-scale study

Nurses who work in magnet hospitals were found to be less likely to experience burnout and dissatisfaction with their jobs, according to this study of over 26,000 hospital RNs working in four states (CA, FL, PA, NJ).  Magnet hospitals were found to have a signficantly better work environment and a larger proportion of more highly educated nurses.  When analyzing responses from RNs in three of the states (CA was excluded from this part of the analysis because of mandatory staffing requirements), the nurse-patient ratio was found to be more favorable in magnet hospitals.  That is, the number of patients per nurse was lower in the magnet hospitals.

Source: Kelly, L.A., McHugh, M.D., and Aiken, L.H.  Nurse outcomes in magnet and non-magnet hospitals.  JONA. Journal of Nursing Administration;41(10):428-433, Oct. 2011.  Click here for more information: http://journals.lww.com/jonajournal/Abstract/2011/10000/Nurse_Outcomes_in_Magnet__and_Non_Magnet_Hospitals.9.aspx  Posted by AHA Resource Center, (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

More on the attraction of Magnet status

A post to this blog on March 22, 2011, looked at the return on investment of achieving Magnet status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (www.nursecredentialing.org/Magnet.aspx).  A recent article in the Journal of Nursing Administration elevates that analysis to the system level by looking at the benefits – and risks – of pursuing Magnet designation at the system level, where every separate entity must meet the stringent requirements.  System designation is an all or nothing proposition – each entity qualifies for Magnet status, or the whole system fails. 

The analysis presented in JONA is based on the five key components of the revised Magnet model:

  • transformational leadership
  • structural empowerment
  • exemplary professional practice
  • new knowledge, innovations, and improvements
  • empirical quality outcomes

The authors look at how these critical features are expressed at the system level and pose questions that will help guide the decision as to whether system or individual hospital application is more appropriate.

Source: Jenkins, M., and Fields, B.  Pursing Magnet(R) designation as a system or as individual entities.  What is the right decision?  Journal of Nursing Administration.  41(4):172-178, April 2011.

Additional source:  Pinkerton, S.  The Magnet(R) view: pursuing ANCC magnet recognition as a system or individual organization.  Nursing Economic$.  26(5):323-324, September-October 2008.