Strong Receives New International Quality Designation for Nursing

Jan. 12, 2009

Strong Memorial Hospital has been redesignated as a Nursing Magnet Hospital, the highest and most prestigious honor an organization can receive for excellence in nursing and quality patient care. The international quality nursing designation is awarded to only about five percent of hospitals in the country.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center, the largest nurse credentialing organization and a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA), unanimously approved the Magnet redesignation for Strong Memorial and the University of Rochester Medical Center, which was announced this week.

Strong Memorial was first designated as a Magnet Hospital in August 2004, when it became the first hospital in the Rochester region to receive this recognition of nursing excellence. The redesignation highlights the work and accomplishments of the nurses at Strong and their continued commitment to continuously improve patient care and the health of the community.

“It was obvious that your organization has continued to grow and strengthen your programs over the past four years,” said Gail A. Wolf, D.S.N., R.N., F.A.A.N., chair of the Commission on the Magnet Recognition Program.

The redesignation comes after more than a year of extensive documentation and evaluation of the nursing program at Strong. The American Nurses Credentialing Center studied almost 100 criteria in evaluating the quality of nursing.

The term “Magnet Status” originates from a group of 41 hospitals that were able to recruit and retain nurses during a national nursing shortage in the 1980s, thereby serving as a “magnet” for the profession. Strong was one of those original “reputational Magnet hospitals.”

Research has shown that Magnet-designated hospitals outperform their peers in recruiting and retaining nurses, vital activities, especially given projections that a 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, and the hospitals themselves have lower turnover and vacancy rates.

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.” Research also has shown that high quality nursing creates a “halo” effect, making a hospital more attractive to nurses’ colleagues such as physicians. Researchers who have compared Magnet hospitals to other health care institutions 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.

The rigorous process of redesignation for Magnet Status began in 2007, when a group of nursing professionals formed a steering committee and started documenting the practice of nursing throughout Strong. Their analyses focused on 14 key nursing standards: assessment, diagnosis, identification of outcomes, planning, implementation, evaluation, quality of care and administrative practice, performance appraisal, education, collegiality, ethics, collaboration, research and resource utilization.

“When all of the documents and narratives were pulled together, we had more than 4,500 pages of best practices to submit,” said Stephanie Von Bacho, M.S., R.N., Magnet Project Director. “The quality of work done by nurses at our institution continues to set the standard for excellence in nursing care.”

Four nurse appraisers from American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Magnet Recognition Program visited for four days in October for a comprehensive review of Strong’s Nursing Practice. During their visit, the appraisers met with more than 800 nurses, physicians, employees in other disciplines, and the executive leadership. The team visited every nursing unit and toured other departments. They discussed Strong and Strong nurses with patients, visitors, health care team members, and other employees. The Magnet designation is a four-year award.

“I am honored and privileged to work with such superb and professional nurses as we have here at Strong,”  Patricia Witzel, R.N., M.S., Medical Center associate vice president and chief nursing officer at Strong.