Laws of Attraction: The First Four Forces of Magnet Hospitals

How do hospitals attract and retain the very best nurses? As described in the previous Connect blog post, What It Takes to Be ‘Magnetic’, magnet hospitals must demonstrate fourteen clearly defined characteristics, according to the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program®. These characteristics foster the highest quality of care—and attract the best and brightest nurses. They also make these “magnet” hospitals among the most desirable employers.

To help achieve or maintain Magnet designation for your hospital or healthcare network, consider the first four “forces of magnetism” closely.

1. Quality of nursing leadership. A magnet hospital has strong, risk-taking nurse leaders who take a strategic, visionary approach to daily nursing operations and who advocate for their staff and patients. For example, the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) includes nurses at all levels in decision-making about nursing care and advocates for adequate and appropriate human and material resources to ensure safe, quality patient care.

2. Organizational structure. The structure is flat, decentralized, dynamic, and responsive to change. And it includes nurses on interdisciplinary and nursing department committees and at the executive level. For instance, the CNO reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer and enables decentralized decision-making through education, facilitation, and support.

3. Management style. Nurse leaders are visible, accessible, and communicative. Managers encourage participation and feedback from staff. To illustrate, management fosters horizontal and vertical communication among nurses at all levels, and direct-care nurses can lead initiatives to improve patient care, nursing practice, or the work environment.

4. Personnel policies and programs. Magnet hospitals offer competitive salaries and benefits, use creative and flexible staffing, develop personnel policies with direct-care nurse input, support professional growth in administrative and clinical tracks, and offer programs that enhance nurses’ work-life balance. For example, magnet hospitals minimize shift rotations and reduce the number of scheduled weekends, allowing staff to accommodate their personal schedules more easily. They have career ladders, which promote staff professional development.

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