1. Bumgarner, Susan D. MSN, RNC, CNAA
  2. Beard , Edward L. Jr MSN, RN, CNAA


The process of seeking magnet designation through the American Nurses Credentialing Center begins with completion of a 1-page application. The second phase, the most tedious and time-consuming phase, consists of submitting written documentation. The written documentation must demonstrate implementation of the Scope and Standards for Nurse Administrators and how the "forces of magnetism" are incorporated within nursing services. Compiling the written documentation can be overwhelming and challenging. Getting started, developing an approach, and assigning responsibilities require time, creativity, and energy. The authors identify strategies to make the document preparation smooth and coordinated. Pitfalls to avoid and helpful tips are discussed.


Is magnet designation in your future? It is a lot of work and energy, so what is the incentive? First, healthcare consumers expect quality patient care. Today's consumers are more educated and more involved in their own health and have a need to know how good the care is at their community hospitals. Second, nurses desire a professional practice environment and have a need to know which hospitals are the best for professional nursing practice. Nurses deliver 95% of hospitalized patient care, and hospitals must compete today for the best nurses. 1 Magnet designation is a vehicle for ensuring the attainment of quality patient care and professional practice goals.


Organizational attributes that attract the best nurses to hospitals support better patient outcomes. In magnet-designated hospitals, there is a strong presence of nurses in decision making about patient care and professional nursing practice. A high level of collegiality between nurses and physicians is present. More time is provided for nurses to care for and teach patients. Critical thinking is encouraged and expected. Therefore, magnet hospitals are considered the "cream of the crop" for patient care and the best environment for nurses to practice, thus creating a major marketing opportunity. 2 Magnet designation of a hospital sends the message to the community that it is recognized for excellence in nursing care.


Magnet designation is an effective tool in marketing services to patients. A magnet practice environment is useful in recruiting and retaining quality nurses. 3 The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) through the Magnet designation program provides the seal of approval for quality nursing care and the recognition of excellence in nursing services. Unlike the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (JCAHO), the Magnet designation program recognizes hospitals that set high-quality standards and meet predefined standards. The JCAHO sets standards that hospitals are expected to meet, whereas magnet-designation standards exceed such predefined standards and usual public expectation. It is the "gold star" of nursing care excellence and defines an extremely high standard for professional practice.