1. Lackey, Sarah DNP, APRN, CCNS


Magnet(R) organizations are required to identify a Magnet program director (MPD), who plays a critical role in attaining and maintaining Magnet designation. The evidence is sparse related to qualifications or recommended educational levels of those assuming an MPD role. In this article, the author discusses how one of the DNP Essentials, clinical scholarship and the use of analytical methods for evidence-based practice, is reported to prepare nurses for the MPD role.


Article Content

Magnet(R) designation has become a criterion standard denoting nursing excellence. The constructs of Magnet, including applying and successfully integrating research, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement into nursing practice, are well established in the literature.1-4 Magnet hospitals are expected to demonstrate expertise in research, data acquisition, analysis, and application of findings.5

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Organizations on the Magnet journey are required to identify a Magnet program director (MPD) to work in partnership with the chief nursing officer (CNO). The MPD is the organization's contact for communication regarding the Magnet application, reporting of evidence, and changes and updates in the organization.6 The MPD plays a pivotal organizational role as a facilitator in the attainment and maintenance of Magnet recognition. The individual who holds the position must have not only leadership, communication, and project management skills but also competency in data analysis, scholarly writing, and educating others.6-10 Magnet program director roles can vary based on the size of the organization and the available resources, yet recommended skill sets remain consistent. Preparing for and being successful in the role of MPD are challenging. The literature is sparse regarding recommendations or guidelines for CNOs related to qualifications or education for those assuming, or preparing to assume, an MPD role.7,8


The DNP degree provides preparation in systems leadership, analytical methods, scientific underpinnings for practice, clinical scholarship, and interprofessional collaboration for improving patient outcomes, as outlined in the Essentials for DNP Education presented by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.11 In light of the Institute of Medicine's 2010 recommendations to increase the number of doctoral-prepared nurses, DNP degree programs have enjoyed consistent growth and popularity, with more than 3000 graduates reported in 2014.12 Despite the growing numbers of DNPs assuming positions in the workplace, CNOs demonstrate a lack of consistent understanding regarding the value of a DNP-prepared nurse.13 Inherent in its design is the hope that the DNP degree can build the bridge between knowledge and practice by invoking creative and innovative ways to improve healthcare outcomes. As the number of Magnet-designated hospitals grows, increasing sophistication and ability to apply evidence-based and researched solutions are needed to be successful.


Identification of Skill Needs for MPDs

In a focus group of 12 active MPDs, where the aim of discussion was to discover more about MPD preparation for the role, the most challenging skills to learn were identified as data analysis, writing to Magnet standards, and project management. Although data analysis is an encompassing competency, applications such as data analysis, evaluation of evidence, and application to practice are part of the DNP curriculum, essential III.11 A group of MPDs were asked what type of graduate degree courses would help in preparing a nurse for the MPD role, as part of a larger study.14


Survey of MPDs

In a survey administered electronically to active MPDs to evaluate to what degree they would recommend concepts of DNP Essentials11 as educational preparation for their roles, participants were asked to rank their recommendation using a Likert scale of 0 to 10.14 Magnet program directors were recruited personally or by direct reply to email communication initiated by participants through MPD list serve requests. Institutional review board approval and participant consent were obtained.14 Three survey questions specifically addressed essential III: "If there were specialty preparation for the MPD role in graduate education, to what degree would you recommend inclusion of the following:


- Analytical methods for evaluating practice outcomes;


- Collecting and analyzing data; and


- Interpreting data findings."




The survey was administered for a lengthy data collection period (16 weeks) to increase sample size, with the final sample numbering 157. The response rate was 53% (n = 83). Demographics of survey respondents are published elsewhere.14 Analysis of the 3 questions regarding data methodology demonstrated mean scores of 9.3, 9.6, and 9.6 respectively, with 10 being "highly recommend."14



The survey sample was not inclusive because there was no access to a distribution list for all MPDs at all Magnet organizations. In addition, surveyed hospitals were not geographically diverse.


Implications for Nurse Leaders

The MPD role is required in organizations seeking and sustaining Magnet designation. The skill set for this role is highly specialized and encompassing. The development of a high-performing MDP can be challenging for a CNO. Minimal guidelines are available supporting the qualifications that MPDs should have to support success.


The application of DNP education and the role of a DNP nurse in an MPD position have not been extensively explored.14 In this study, essential III of DNP education met a specific need identified for the MPD role. Along with competencies attained through a DNP education track, the role of the MPD can be enhanced. Further research is indicated however. Chief nursing officers may want to evaluate DNP education for their MPDs. The MPD role may be a good career advancement opportunity for a DNP graduate desiring an organizational role with the potential to impact the quality of care through the application of evidence.




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