Magnet Hospitals: The Magnet Recognition Program


The successful operation of a health facility requires the concerted efforts of a qualified team of clinical and administrative professionals. However, the provision of quality patient care is the primary roles of nurses. Nursing professionals are at the forefront in meeting the health needs of patients, whether in a hospital or in a home-based care settings. Therefore, empowering them and equipping them fully for their job is inevitable. One of the most effective ways that a hospital or healthcare facility can attract and retain highly qualified nurses is through the acquisition of the “Magnet hospital” status. A magnet hospital can be defined as a healthcare facility whose services can be considered the gold standard for nursing practice. They are characterized by fewer workplace accidents, excellent delivery of nursing services to patients, application of best practices in nursing, collaborative relationships between healthcare practitioners, higher nurse-to-patient rations, and limited use of agency personnel.

What is a Magnet Hospital?

As mentioned earlier, a magnet hospital is a healthcare facility whose services represent the pinnacle of nursing practice, and one in which nurses are supplied with the resources needed to meet the health needs of patients, implement change, and adopt innovation within the organisation. The status of a magnet hospital is awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Centre (ANCC), and it is given after a hospital demonstrates high standards of excellence in various areas (Abramson, 2017). These include “transformational leadership, structural empowerment, exemplary professional practice, new knowledge, innovations, and improvements, and empirical outcomes” (Lasater et al., 2019, p. 20). Research has revealed that magnet hospitals report fewer cases of workplace accidents, injuries, staff turnover, and patient complaints than medical facilities without the designation (Richards et al., 2017). People usually look at the qualifications of physicians when evaluating the quality of care provided by a medical facility. However, nurses play the most significant role in the provision of quality care because they are on the frontline of service delivery and the protection of patient safety (Lasater et al., 2019). In a Magnet hospital, nurses are responsible for partnering with other healthcare professionals and providing leadership to medical teams.

An example of a Magnet hospital is the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (Gen. Org.)-Jeddah ((KFSH&RC (Gen. Org.)) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was founded in 1975, and it was the first hospital to be awarded the Magnet status among the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) (King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, n.d.). It received the designation in 2013 after successfully fulfilling the ANCC’s requirements. The healthcare facility is a 350-bed referral and specialist hospital that has nine key units: the Neuroscience, Surgical, Adult Oncology, Paediatric Oncology, Medical (5North), Medical (5South), and Protocol units, as well as an Operating and Recovery Rooms (King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, n.d.). Its nursing specialty services include Neonatal ICU, Paediatric ICU, Cardiac Surgical ICU, Medical Surgical ICU, Surgical ICU, Cardiovascular Telemetry, and Renal Transplant Unit. The hospital has attained the highest standard of nursing practice in the provision of medical care in the aforementioned areas. It began the journey toward the recognition in December 2006, and the hospital management engaged in a rigorous process of improving patient care, creating a supporting work environment for the nurses, and implementing tools to evaluate patient outcomes (King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, n.d.). They developed a unitary professional practice model (PPM) that guided their services related to governance and nursing practice. They used concepts of the model to create a supportive environment, promote nurse autonomy, and rally the nurses around a common goal.

The Magnet Recognition Program

Any medical facility has to undergo a process of evaluation in order to achieve the “Magnet hospital” status. This recognition is subject to the fulfilment of the requirements outlined in the aforementioned five areas. A key foundational component of the designation’s creation was the results of a research study conducted by the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) Task Force on Nursing Practice (Richards et al., 2017). The main objective was to identify the attributes that define the organisations within the health care industry that hired and retained highly-qualified nurses (Lasater et al., 2019). The framework of the study and its findings were used as the foundation for the creation of the Magnet Recognition Program in 1990. It was implemented, and the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle was the first healthcare facility to receive the “Magnet status’ from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) (Richards et al., 2017). The main goal of the programme is to recognise hospitals and healthcare facilities that provide high-quality care, demonstrate nursing excellence, and that integrate innovation into professional practice.

The status of a “Magnet hospital’ offers assurance to patients that the quality of medical care offered at an institution is high. Moreover, it gives nurses the guarantee that the work environment in an organisation is favourable to their work (Abramson, 2017). Magnet hospitals score highly in the following areas: quality of leadership, management style, organisational structure, human resource programs and procedures, organisational frameworks of care provision, quality of medical care, the facility’s commitment to change, the proper utilization of resources, and the autonomy of professional staff (Richards et al., 2017). In addition, they are excellent in promoting the image of nursing, interdisciplinary relationships, professional development, the role of nurse as teacher, and their presence in communities. The ANCC awarded the status to the first hospital in 1994, and since then, the programme has grown immensely, and currently, it includes the credentialing of hospitals around the world.

The Magnet Model to Achieve Magnet Status

In the United States of America and other places in the world, magnet status is the highest form of credentialing that a nursing facility can earn or be awarded. The status is earned through the fulfilment of a set of standards developed by the ANCC to quantity the level of nursing excellence in healthcare facilities. Magnet status requirements are developed around key nursing areas, including the work environment, nursing excellence, innovations in nursing practice, and quality patient outcomes (Richards et al., 2017). According to statistics released by Nursing World, approximately 8% of hospitals (482 facilities) in the US have earned this status, and 34 are located in the state of California (Vadurro, 2019). Among the top 10 magnet hospitals include Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, UCSF Medical Center, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Hackensack UMC, Cedars Sinai, and Mt. Sinai Hospital. The ANCC outlines five primary components of the model: “transformational leadership, structural empowerment, exemplary professional practice, new knowledge, innovations and improvements, and empirical outcomes” (Lasater et al., 2019, p. 20). They play different roles in the attainment of the Magnet status.

Transformational Leadership

The nursing and healthcare field is undergoing evolutionary changes that are occasioned by technological advancements that are changing the areas of treatment, patient management, and communication. The ANCC contends that these changes necessitate the implementation of transformational leadership that can lead nursing teams into adopting change in order to enable them to successfully address the healthcare needs of the people that are becoming more complex with every passing year (Vadurro, 2019). The Magnet Recognition Program focuses primarily on the quality and influence of nursing leadership in healthcare facilities (Richards et al., 2017). In addition, it evaluates the management styles that are applied by hospital leaders. According to the ANCC, excellent leaders are visionary, influential, and possess the necessary clinical knowledge and skills needed to conduct their nursing practice (Vadurro, 2019). Transformational leaders are needed because of the rapid changes that are taking place in the healthcare field (Parr et al., 2020). For example, the introduction of robotics and telehealth has changed the practice of nursing significantly, and without effective leadership, the provision of quality care would be difficult.

Structural Empowerment

Transformational leadership is one component of certification that should be supported by an effective organisational structure. With regard to this component, the ANCC evaluates a facility’s personnel policies and practices, professional development plans, and its participation in community programmes (Vadurro, 2019). It is important for hospitals to empower their nursing staff to embrace innovation and align their personal and professional goals with their visions, missions, and values. In hospitals that have attained the Magnet status, nurses are key players in the decision-making process (Richards et al., 2017). They use their daily experiences in nursing practice to propose and help in formulating policies that enhance the quality of care (Vadurro, 2019). This active participation is beneficial to patients and healthcare facilities, and can enhance job satisfaction and lower turnover among nurses by increasing the level of engagement.

Exemplary Professional Practice

The attainment of excellence in professional nursing practice is the most important requirement that speeds up the award of the magnet status to a medical facility. In that regard, nurses are required to demonstrate high levels of nursing knowledge and skills with regard to their role in dealing with patients and their families, communities, and other healthcare professionals. When evaluating a hospital for credentialing, the ANCC evaluates the quality of nursing and the scope of professional practice within and outside the institution. The Moreover, the autonomy of nursing staff and their relationship with other professionals in the organisation are also assessed (Rodríguez-García et al., 2020). Magnet hospitals create and implement various channels that promote communication among nursing units, hospital departments, and medical workers (Vadurro, 2019). The compartmentalisation of nursing units is discouraged as it hampers collaboration and teamwork.

New Knowledge, Innovations, and Improvements

One of the distinctive characteristics of a Magnet hospital is the pursuance of change, regarding new ways of providing care, managing patients, and improving the nursing profession. In that regard, they should be committed to constantly improving both patient care and nursing practice. This is accomplished through participating in new research programmes, adopting innovation, and implementing the findings of existing research studies (Vadurro, 2019). The Magnet hospital initiative promotes excellence among healthcare institutions because it promotes the use of empirical evidence in the advancement of nursing practice and the implementation of best practices. Change is only adopted if there is hard evidence to show that it has positive patient outcomes. Magnet hospitals embrace a culture of always looking for new knowledge, research, and innovations so as to improve the delivery of patient care (Vadurro, 2019). ANCC encourages hospitals to incorporate evidence-based practice into their operations for better results.

Empirical Outcomes

The primary focus of the Magnet Recognition Program is the effect of organisational structures and practices on patients and their families, the hospital and its staff, the communities, and the society at large. Research has revealed that Magnet hospitals achieve superior patient outcomes because they are committed to providing the highest quality of health care than hospitals without the status. The quality outcomes that Magnet hospitals get are as a result of various factors, including high levels of nurse engagement, effective patient management, and collaborations between nursing staff and other healthcare providers. Moreover, the active participation of nurses in implementing change, adopting innovation, and decision-making promotes service delivery and patient outcomes.

The Benefits of Magnet Status

In today’s highly competitive, dynamic, and diverse healthcare industry, patients have a wide range of options to choose from, regarding their medical care. The proliferation of pharmacies, urgent care offices, independent laboratories, and home-based care programmes, it is important for medical institutions to gain an edge over other these establishments in order to compete effectively (Richards et al., 2017). One of the ways that a facility can gain a competitive advantage is through earning a Magnet Recognition Program certification. This status is an indicator that an organisation’s major commitments are quality patient care, innovation, and excellent nursing (Richards et al., 2017). The recognition has numerous benefits to hospitals, the nursing staff, and patients.

Benefits for Hospitals

The magnet status improves the business stability and growth of designated healthcare facilities in several ways. It lowers registered nurses agency rates, decreases the costs of dealing with staff injuries, and diminishes the costs of vacancy rate and employee turnover (Jones, 2017). Surveys have shown that Magnet hospitals perform better financially than non-designated hospitals. This can be attributed to the high number of clients, recognition by potential partners and collaborators, and a competitive advantage. A study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation revealed the financial benefit of Magnet status; revenue grew by approximately 3.89%, while costs increased by 2.46 % (Jones, 2017). The improved attraction and retention of highly-qualified nurses leads to significant savings on the recruitment and training of new nurses. Moreover, money is also saved through the attainment of better patient outcomes and the timely discharge of patients. In that regard, the hospitals are reimbursed by the insurance companies in a manner that affects their profits positively. The designation also serves as a marketing tool for hospitals, thereby attracting donors, philanthropic donations, and useful community partnerships.

Benefits for Nurses

The main benefits that nurses enjoy for working in a Magnet hospital is a workplace that promotes innovation, job satisfaction, and high-quality nursing care. A 2017 survey conducted by Gallup revealed that nurses working in hospitals with the aforementioned designation are more engaged with their work and attain better health outcomes that those in ordinary healthcare facilities (Jones, 2017). The study also pointed out that healthcare facilities with Magnet status report fewer cases of workplace injuries, safety-related incidents, and minimal cases of exposure to body fluids and blood. These outcomes provide proof that these organisations provide safe work environments for their medical staff. Other findings showed that rates of turnover are lower and nurses are satisfied with their jobs (Anstee et al., 2020). Nurses in Magnet hospitals also enjoy working in a culture that promotes collaboration, teamwork, autonomy, professional development, and nurse leadership.

Benefits for Patients

Patients benefit immensely from seeking medical services from magnet hospitals because they report lower mortality rates and better patient outcomes than non-designated hospitals. These outcomes can be attributed to high standards of care, high levels of professionalism, focus on patient-centred care, and increased nurse engagement (Gerardo, 2017). Hospitals that have highly engaged nurses report higher rates of recommendations from patients than hospitals in which nurses have low engagement (Rodríguez-García et al., 2020). Patient recommended certain facilities to other people if they observe professionalism and positive health outcomes.


The Magnet Recognition Program is based on the findings of a study that was conducted in 1983 to appraise the attributes that defined the organisations that hired and retained highly-qualified nurses. The framework of the study and its findings were used as the foundation for the creation of the Magnet Recognition Program in 1990 by the American Nurses Credentialing Centre (ANCC). The Magnet hospital designation is awarded by the ANCC after a hospital demonstrates high standards of excellence in various areas. They include transformational leadership, structural empowerment, exemplary professional practice, new knowledge, innovations, and improvements, and empirical outcomes. The Magnet-hospital benefits hospitals, nurses, and patients in various ways. Healthcare facilities benefit financially because they save money from low turnover and high retention rates. Moreover, their status attracts philanthropists who give donations. Nurses enjoy the privilege of working in empowering workplaces that improve their engagement and job satisfaction. Patients enjoy the highest quality of medical care that is characterised by low rates of mortality and patient-centred services.


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