Strong Receives International Quality Designation for Nursing

'Magnet Hospital' Designation Earned by Only Two Percent of Hospitals

August 16, 2004

Strong Memorial Hospital has achieved recognition as a Nursing Magnet Hospital, an international nursing quality designation enjoyed by only about 2 percent of hospitals in the country.

The distinction comes after more than a year of extensive documentation and evaluation of Strong’s nursing program. The American Nurses Credentialing Center, the group within the American Nurses Association that awards Magnet Status, looked at nearly 100 criteria in evaluating nursing care at Strong. The term “Magnet Status” originates from a group of 41 hospitals during a national nursing shortage in the 1980s that nonetheless was able to recruit and retain nurses, serving as a “magnet” for the profession. Strong Memorial was one of those original “reputational Magnet” hospitals.

Researchers who have compared Magnet hospitals to those that haven’t earned the quality status have found that Magnet hospitals enjoy better outcomes, including lower mortality rates for patients. Likewise, patients and nurses alike report increased satisfaction. And nurses at Magnet hospitals perceive the care being given by their institutions as better.

Studies also show that Magnet-designated hospitals outperform in recruiting and retaining nurses – vital activities, especially given projections that the current national shortage of nurses will only get worse in the coming decade. Documentation shows that nurses at Magnet hospitals consider them good places to work. The hospitals themselves have lower turnover and vacancy rates, contributing to more consistent quality and performance.

Likewise, a study in the Journal of Nursing Administration found that Magnet hospitals are “infused with quality care, nurse autonomy, informal and non-rigid verbal communication, innovation, bringing out the best in each individual, and striving for excellence.” High-quality nursing creates a “halo” effect, as well, making a hospital more attractive to nurses’ colleagues such as physicians.

The rigorous process of achieving Magnet Status began in 2003. A steering committee started documenting the practice of nursing throughout the hospital, focusing on 14 key nursing standards such as quality of care, planning, implementation, evaluation, education and ethics. Required documentation included descriptions of “the innovative, dynamic, excellence-focused features of the organization.”

Strong submitted more than 3,500 pages of documentation. The hospital scored within a “range of excellence,” earning a site visit from four nurse appraisers from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Magnet Recognition Program. The appraisers conducted a comprehensive review of Strong’s Nursing Practice Department over four days, meeting with more than 800 nurses, physicians, employees in other disciplines, and the executive leadership. The team visited every nursing unit and discussed Strong and Strong nurses with patients, visitors, health care team members, and other employees.

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