Some see it as a guide to creating the optimal nursing staff and hospitals, while others see it as simply a marketing ploy to enforce more and more regulations to simplify hospital management. Either way, the program created by the American Nurses Credentialing Center has stirred up a debate between nurses and doctors alike. Although initially created to recognize excellent nurses and measure the strength and quality of their nursing, studies have shown that there is no quantifiable difference in quality or safety between those with the Magnet credential and those without.
What is the Magnet Program?
According to the ANCC website, “The Magnet Recognition Program® recognizes health care organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. Consumers rely on Magnet designation as the ultimate credential for high quality nursing. Developed by ANCC, Magnet is the leading source of successful nursing practices and strategies worldwide.”
The program focuses on five different groups that make of the framework of the program.
- Transformational Leadership
This component includes the Forces of Quality of Nursing Leadership and Management Style.
- Structural Empowerment
This component includes the Forces of Organizational Structure, Personnel Policies and Programs, Community and the Healthcare Organization, Image of Nursing, and Professional Development.
- Exemplary Professional Practice
This component includes the Forces of Professional Models of Care, Consultation and Resources, Autonomy, Nurses as Teachers, and Interdisciplinary Relationships.
- New Knowledge, Innovation, & Improvements
This component includes the Force of Quality Improvement.
- Empirical Quality Results
This component includes the Force of Quality of Care.
Think of it kind of like standardized school tests. Those that perform well on these “tests” or “applications” will then be recognized and receive the benefits of being recognized as one of the “elite” nursing staffs.
Some studies have certainly backed up the importance of the Magnet program. One HMN Healthcare report has shown that Magnet hospitals have a 14% lower morality risk as well as a 12% lower failure to rescue rate. Another study reported by AJN reported, “Magnet hospitals provide better care for pressure ulcers, and had higher quality of care, innovations in practice and nursing excellence. But non-Magnet hospitals had better infection control and less post-operative sepsis. Non-Magnet hospitals had better staffing, with 30 RN hours per unit more per week.”
A few naysayers have argued that the Magnet program is more about publicity for the ANCC program itself, than actually recognizing quality nursing. They’re almost saying, “Hey look at the great thing we’re doing, we should be recognized because we’re recognizing others.” This humble-brag has rubbed many people the wrong way and has led to a few independent studies that contradict the success of the program.
A July/August 2010 study published in the Journal of Nursing Administration found that magnet hospitals do not have any better working conditions than non-magnet hospitals.
Instead of promoting the empowerment of nurses, some see the Magnet program as simply a promotional tool used to grow the ANCC organization. Many cases have shown that those who have applied for Magnet status have acknowledged that there have been few significant changes.