1. George, Nicole MSN, RN-BC, CMSRN, NE-BC


The Magnet Recognition Program(R) has a dedicated team of RNs and non-RNs who are committed to advancing nursing and supporting healthcare organizations on their Magnet(R) journeys. Healthcare organizations who are either Magnet-designated or applicants for Magnet designation regularly communicate with the various members of the Magnet program office team. This perspective will highlight the roles of the senior Magnet program analysts and the assistant director of Magnet program operations.


Article Content

One of the most valuable resources the Magnet(R) program office provides is the expertise of the senior Magnet program analysts (SMPAs). The SMPA is responsible for facilitating all phases of the Magnet designation process and providing expert coaching for healthcare organizations progressing through the phases of the Magnet journey, before, during, and after designation. The SMPAs are RNs with a minimum of a master's degree; a number of analysts have a doctoral degree or are currently pursuing. Each of the analysts has held prior positions of leadership in a variety of healthcare settings, including military, ambulatory, and acute care. Each analyst has a rich knowledge of quality and nursing leadership theories. These characteristics, along with many others, contribute to the high-performing attributes of this team.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

When we take a closer look at the characteristics of the SMPA team, it is important to recognize the key areas the Magnet program office leadership team prioritized when developing and leading this team. The number of Magnet-designation organization has increased significantly over the past few years with the 500th organization designated in summer of 2019. We have also experienced an increase in inquiries and applications from ambulatory care settings; thus, we have increased the number of SMPAs on the team. Seven of the 10 analysts have been on the team for less than 3 years. Although this may seem like it poses more challenges, the Magnet leadership team embraced our newer analysts' thoughts/opinions and have worked to empower all staff that have fostered the high-performing environment.


In addition to the growing team of analysts came a number of internal promotions within the Magnet Program Office. Over a 6-month period, a new vice president of Magnet and Pathway to Excellence(R), director of the Magnet Recognition Program(R), and assistant director of Magnet program operations were named. In true Magnet form, succession planning for the role of the director and assistant director of Magnet program operations was successfully implemented, which allowed for an efficient transition.


Hiring Exceptional Nurses

As mentioned, a growing program led to 7 SMPAs being hired over a 20-month period. Hiring exceptional nurses continues to be a strategy of the Magnet Program Office. An important phase of the hiring process is the panel interview with the entire Magnet Program Office team; this provides a reciprocal effect as the applicant has the opportunity to meet the team and the entire team meets the applicant. The team asks various behavior-based interview questions of the applicants,1 which allow the team to predict how the applicants would perform in the future. This also allows the team to determine which skills applicants have and if those skills would be a great asset to the team.


In 2019, the Magnet Program Office team felt it would be important for the applicants to demonstrate their presentation skills during the panel interview. Because the SMPAs provide education to healthcare organizations in both the formal and informal settings, this criterion/strategy was added to the makeup of the interview process. The assistant director of operations views the feedback from the team on both the interview and presentation skills as a critical component of the hiring decision.


Also, in 2019, the Magnet Program Office began piloting working remotely. Each member of the Magnet Program Office transitioned from teleworking to working fully remote from home. Implementing this strategy enhanced the hiring process as it allowed nurses from across the United States to apply or be considered for the SMPA position.


Shared Decision-Making in the Nonclinical Setting

The 2019 Magnet(R) Application Manual defines shared decision-making as "a model in which nurses are formally organized to make decisions about clinical practice standards, quality improvement, staff and professional development, and research."2 This model, traditionally applied in the acute care setting, has successfully been applied in the Magnet Program Office. Each SMPA participates and/or leads a committee; these committees' decisions all have direct impacts on the various processes in the Magnet Program Office. Once committees have reached decisions, the SMPA leads a more formal discussion in a department meeting; regular status updates are provided also in the department meetings regularly.


A true test for the Magnet program office's shared decision-making teams has been the COVID-19 pandemic. The Magnet program office pivoted to provide a different level of service for our members. The SMPAs were diligent and efficient in their decisions, which led to improved quality and communication during those early months of the pandemic. The SMPAs were truly at the center of the decisions and refining of processes, which led to the number of changes implemented. The Magnet program office truly "kept calm and carried shared governance on."3




1. Behavioral Interview Questions to Ask Candidates. Accessed January 13, 2021. [Context Link]


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


3. Hess RG Jr., Weaver SH, Speroni KG. Shared governance during a pandemic. Nurse Lead. 2020;18(5):497-499. [Context Link]