What’s a ‘Magnet’ hospital?


“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  ~Howard Thurman

So what is a “Magnet Hospital?”  The term may conjure up energy fields around or within a hospital…a huge magnet attracting a hospital into its magnetic field…maybe it’s the hospital’s employees producing the energy field…perhaps it’s the quality of services hospitals offer to their local communities that causes the attraction.  Who or what is producing energy, and conversely, who or what is it attracting?

When hospitals publicize magnet status, it refers to their excellence in nursing services and are awarded the coveted magnet status by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) through it’s ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® – the gold standard for nursing excellence.  The ANCC uses numerous criteria to thoroughly evaluate all areas of patient care.  It is a demanding credentialing process, and may take up to several years to implement and achieve.  Achieving magnet status is a BIG deal in the healthcare industry and nursing profession.  

Here’s  what Meryl Montgomery, MSN, RN, magnet program coordinator at Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and incidentally a Magnet hospital, stated about magnet hospitals, “A magnet hospital is a whole different environment, because the nurses make different choices…they’re choices that lead to an environment of excellence.” (1)

Magnet awarded hospitals must demonstrate that their nursing services function beyond the level of excellence. Standards for magnet status are rigorous and include 14 dimensions, known as “Forces of Magnetism” that must be present for a facility to receive the prestigious magnet rating:

 • nursing leadership

organizational culture

• management style

• personnel policies and programs

• professional models of care

• quality of nursing care

• continuous quality improvement

• consultation and resources

• nurse autonomy

• community presence

• nurses as teachers

• the image of nursing

• interdisciplinary collaboration

• professional development

(Source: Lippincott’s nursingcenter.com. Nursing 2009. January 2009)


For those of you interested in learning the background of  ANCC, here’s a brief history…

ACNN was established in 1991 and is the world’s largest and most prestigious nurse credentialing organization, and a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA).  ANCC provides certification opportunities in more than 30 specialties and advanced practice areas of nursing.  It is the only national system for accreditation and approval of continuting education in nursing.

The Magnet Recognition Program for Excellence in Nursing was based on research completed by nurse researchers in the early 1980s who identified the attributes of organizations that were able to recruit and retain professional nurses.

Since then, the magnet program identifies excellence in the provision of nursing services, an environment that fosters and rewards quality nursing, recognizes the management philosophy and practice of nursing services and the adherence to standards for improving the quality of patient care.

As of October 2008, just under 5% of all U.S. healthcare organizations hold Magnet status. (2)  The 293 facilities with magnet status excel at 14 “Forces of Magnetism” (refer to the 14 dimensions listed above).  Hospitals with magnet status are shown to have shorter recovery times and higher patient satisfaction than other hospitals.  Achieving magnet designation not only benefits patients, but also nursing staff.  Nurses working at magnet organizations “consistently rated their employer higher than those working at non-magnet facilities, especially in the areas of :

  • nurse satisfaction
  • nurse presence on committees
  • a culture supportive of nursing
  • evidence-based changes in practice
  • access to clinical reference tools

(Source: Nursing 2009 – download 

Magnet Organizations in Georgia

Being a curious person, I decided to find out what healthcare organizations in Georgia (my home state) had undertaken the rigors of achieving magnet status, and here they are…

Atlanta VA Medical Center,  Decatur GA.  Awarded in 2009

Medical Center of Central Georgia,  Macon GA.   Awarded in 2005

Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta.  Atlanta GA .  Awarded in 1995

St. Joseph’s/Candler – Candler Hospital.  Savannah GA.  Awarded in 2002

St. Joseph’s/Candler – St. Joseph’s Hospital.  Savannah GA .  Awarded in 2002

University Hospital.  Augusta GA .   Awarded in 2005

Now, if only these magnetic hospitals would incorporate creativity and the arts into it’s mission and philosophy to provide extraordinary patient care – that will add to their magnetism and they will truly come alive!

Is your local hospital a magnet hospital?  Find out at ANCC!

 Email me for the bibliography

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