“Magnet hospitals provide havens for quality care and happy nurses.”
– Kay Bensing, RN
During a national nursing shortage in 1983, the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) researched how work environments affected nurse satisfaction. The organizations with higher nurse recruitment and retention rates had fourteen common characteristics they deemed “forces of magnetism.” The term “Magnet” emerged from their findings and eventually led to the development of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC’s) Magnet Recognition Program.
What Is Magnet and Why Is It Important?
Magnet recognition is a prestigious endorsement for organizations that demonstrate nursing excellence and high-quality patient care. It is considered the “gold standard of nursing” and is structured around five of the original fourteen “forces of magnetism.” A culture of respect, accountability, and patient safety is cultivated during the recognition process. Magnet status is performance-driven and allows leaders to use the nursing process to identify areas of strength or opportunities for improvement.
Magnet designation provides external prestige as well as internal benefits such as:
- Recruitment and retention of high-level talent
- Reduced training costs due to low staff turnover
- Shared decision-making
- Staff engagement
- High-quality patient care based on best practices
- Improved patient satisfaction
- Positive patient outcomes (lower rates of hospital-acquired infections, falls, and mortality)
Patient Experience: An Important Component to Achieving Magnet Designation
According to a survey conducted by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, patients felt safer knowing that their facility properly follows infection control protocols. The high-level designation of Magnet status goes beyond simply safe nursing care, but encompasses an exceptional experience for patients. The elite designation entices new patient acquisition because of the excellent nursing care and safety protocols.
Customer retention and continuity of care are also improved when patients know, like, and trust their providers. Magnet facilities are recognized for their safe and positive work environments that contribute to welcoming atmospheres.
One of the pillars of Magnet designation is patient experience, in addition to nurse satisfaction rates and nurse-sensitive indicators. There are nine Magnet-approved domains that make up the Patient Experience Pillar:
- Patient Engagement
- Patient Education
- Care Coordination (How well did the team work together to care for you?)
- Service Recovery
- Courtesy and Respect (A department specific example question: Overall, were the nursing staff members after birth, on the mother/baby unit, courteous, respectful, and friendly?)
- Careful Listening (How well are your nurses communicating with you regarding your care?)
Organizations seeking Magnet designation choose to show how four of the nine patient experience domains are most meaningful to the organization achieving Magnet status. In the past, qualitative answers were critical for Magnet status; however, 75% of the process is now data focused. Empirical data such as the rate of patient falls, mortality rates, and patient survey data are included in the decision-making process to determine if an organization earns Magnet status. The organization must outperform the national mean of empirical data for five out of eight consecutive quarters of the application period.
How to Use Real-time Patient Feedback and Service Recovery to Help with Magnet Designation
Here’s an all-too common scenario: Mr. Green went to his annual physical even though it always makes him nervous. He heard the receptionist call him by his appointment time, which felt impersonal and made him feel insecure. When he was in the room, the nurse and provider rarely made eye contact and appeared rushed. They told him he had high blood pressure and to come back in two months for follow-up. He didn’t ask any questions because he didn’t want to take more of their time. A few weeks later, he received a survey about his experience in the mail and hesitantly expressed his concerns. Two months passed without a response. He went to his blood pressure follow-up appointment, and his experience was the same. Mr. Green never rescheduled because he felt uncomfortable. Stories like Mr. Green’s do not bode well for Magnet designation. However, there is a better way.
Some 95% of patients said that careful listening and being treated with courtesy and respect are crucial factors for a positive experience with their healthcare providers. Sometimes, just having a listening ear helps them resolve their concerns. When patients do not hear from anyone weeks or months after providing feedback about their negative experience, they may not feel like their concerns were validated. With real-time feedback, nurse leaders can reach out quickly to patients who leave low score reviews or concerning comments. Rapid response to patient concerns allows for more impactful customer service recovery and an adjustment of quality concerns.
Schneck Medical Center provides an example of how they use real-time surveys for service recovery and Magnet designation. Their surveys have minimal questions and are sent out immediately after an outpatient visit, which has helped them receive more timely and more relevant responses. Many of their patients stated that they received the survey before arriving home from the appointment, presenting an opportunity for immediate service recovery. Nurse leaders set up alerts regarding low survey scores so they can promptly reach out and provide an empathetic ear and address any issues.
Monitoring this data has helped Schneck identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments quickly. Narrowing the focus of the survey with fewer questions decreases data input fatigue and enables them to outperform the patient experience means to meet Magnet criteria. Transparency surrounding real-time data for individual nurses helps with encouragement and accountability. Nurses and providers are more engaged because they have data about how patients in their community feel about the care received. It’s no coincidence then, that Schneck Medical Center recently achieved its fourth consecutive Magnet designation.
Magnet status shines a light on nursing excellence and is an indicator of superior, patient-centered care. Delivering a measurable, positive patient experience is a necessary component for achieving Magnet designation that requires the commitment of nursing leadership to provide adequate resources to achieve success. By utilizing real-time patient feedback tools, nurse leaders and chief experience officers alike can listen to patients in the moment, and institute service recovery immediately. Health systems like Schneck Medical Center are moving beyond outdated, retrospective paper surveys and leveraging technology to listen to their patients at the point of care. Evaluation of this type of immediate feedback helps organizations continually improve on national clinical metrics and provide exceptional patient experience, all but ensuring Magnet designation.
American Nurses Credentialing Center. (2020). NEW 2020 Magnet Mission and Vision Statement. Retrieved from: https://www.nursingworld.org/organizational-programs/magnet/about-magnet/
Barnes Jewish Hospital. (2021). The Benefits of Becoming a Magnet Designated Facility. Retrieved from: https://www.barnesjewish.org/For-Professionals/For-Nurses/Magnet-Recognition-Program/The-Benefits-of-Becoming-a-Magnet-Designated-Facility
Becker’s Hospital Review. (2020). 6 ways hospitals and clinics can help patients feel safe when seeking care.
Bensing K. (2010). Magnet hospitals provide havens for quality care and happy nurses. ADVANCE for Nurses. Retrieved from: http://nursing.advanceweb.com/Article/MagnetHospitals-Provide-Havens-For-Quality-Care-and-HappyNurses-2.aspx
Quality Reviews. (2021). An Insider’s View on Schneck Medical Center’s Journey to Becoming a Four-Time Magnet Designation Recipient.
Scheck Medical Center, March 23, 2021: https://www.schneckmed.org/connect/news/2021/march/schneck%E2%80%99s-nursing-excellence-recognized-with-4th-m/
Brandi Jones MSN-Ed, RN-BC is a board-certified registered nurse who specializes in staff development. She writes educational content, blogs & articles. She lives with her husband and springer spaniel in Arkansas. She loves camping and tapping into her creativity in her downtime. You can find her at brandijones.org