1. Lal, M. Maureen DNP, RN


We are midway through a milestone year for nursing, and we have just finished a month-long celebration of Florence Nightingale's 200th birthday. The party may be over, but the work continues. How do we keep the momentum going, not just for 2020, but well beyond? In this month's Magnet(R) Perspectives column, we explore ways to continue to promote the Year of the Nurse through its 3 anchors: nursing excellence, leadership, and innovation. We also take a look at how Magnet organizations stay relevant in these areas, by infusing lifelong learning, evidence-based practice, and clinical inquiry into the culture and making every day an opportunity to celebrate and elevate nursing.


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Florence Nightingale once said, "Unless we are making progress in our nursing every year, every month, every week, take my word for it, we are going back."1(p1) Her words resonate today as we find ourselves at the halfway point of the Year of the Nurse-the American Nurses Association's (ANA) 12-month celebration to recognize nurses' invaluable contributions to healthcare and raise the status of nursing. After a whirlwind Nurses Month, which included a 200th birthday tribute to the founder of modern nursing, where do we go from here? To keep moving forward, organizations must find ways to stay relevant in 3 key areas: practice excellence, leadership opportunities, and nursing innovation.

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In Nightingale's Footsteps

Florence Nightingale's contributions ranged far beyond basic nursing to encompass healthcare statistics, research, and evidence-based practice (EBP). She used written observations, numerical data, critical review, and analysis to move both care and the nursing profession forward. When she connected soldiers' high rates of infection and death with unclean environments during the Crimean War, this earliest example of EBP in action ultimately led to massive reforms in health, social, and workforce policies throughout Britain and the world.2,3


In today's value-based healthcare environment, a commitment to EBP is more important than ever. Promoting an attitude of inquiry that starts nurses thinking "Why am I doing it this way? Is there a more effective way?" leads to the safest and best practices for patients and the practice environment.


A culture of clinical inquiry is never static. In Magnet(R) organizations, a problem-solving approach to decision making evolves to incorporate the latest scientific evidence with the best available experiential evidence.4 Nurses are continuously educated about EBP, resources and infrastructures are routinely reassessed, and targets for research productivity are revised on a regular basis.


Raising Nursing's Voice

Effective use of an interpersonal tool, such as advocacy, enhances the care-giving environment. Florence Nightingale used advocacy early and often in the development of modern nursing.5 She did not hesitate to raise her voice for the profession and show her influence as a healthcare leader. The Year of the Nurse is a good time for nurses everywhere to commit to doing the same. Board service is a good place to start.


Nurses are a natural fit to serve on boards. They represent the biggest segment of the healthcare workforce, consistently rank as the nation's most trusted profession, and play a huge role on the frontlines of healthcare in our communities. But very few actually serve on boards today. The ANA Enterprise is part of the Nurses on Boards Coalition seeking to increase nurses' presence on corporate, health-related, and community boards.6 With its emphasis on shared governance, professional development, and nursing excellence, the Magnet environment is a perfect incubator for board service.


Inspiring Nursing Innovation

Innovations occur at all levels of healthcare and nurses can and should be at the forefront, just like Florence Nightingale, the 1st nurse innovator.


Nurses are natural problem-solvers. Where there is a nurse, there is an idea about how to make patient care safer, more convenient, or more comfortable. But budding innovators need the proper environment, and encouragement, to bring those ideas to life. To stay relevant in the realm of innovation, organizations must commit not just to the necessary structures and processes, but also an expectation of improvement, to always make change happen and drive excellence forward. The Magnet framework gives nurses the means, method, and opportunity to unleash their creative forces to advance patient care, make practices more effective, and improve safety and outcomes.




1. Press Ganey. Nurses lead the charge to excellence. Accessed March 1, 2020. [Context Link]


2. Benton DC, Beasley CJ, Ferguson SL. Nursing now! Learning from the past positioning for the future. OJIN Online J Issues Nurs. 2019;24:2, Manuscript 6. [Context Link]


3. Mackey A, Bassendowski S. The history of evidence-based practice in nursing education and practice. J Prof Nurs. 2017;33(1):51-55. doi:. [Context Link]


4. The American Nurses Credentialing Center. 2019 Magnet(R) Application Manual. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Credentialing Center; 2019. [Context Link]


5. Selanders L, Crane P. The voice of Florence Nightingale on advocacy. OJIN Online J Issues Nurs. 2012;17:1, Manuscript 1. doi:. [Context Link]


6. Nurses on Boards Coalition. Accessed March 1, 2020. [Context Link]