1. Raso, Rosanne RN, CNAA, MS

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Q There's been talk among staff members about forming a union. As a manager, what can I discuss regarding unions with the staff?


The most important thing to focus on is why your staff members feel the need to form a union. You may be surprised at the reasons, and have much more influence on changing their course of action than you think. Typically, the primary issue is a hierarchal environment where staff members don't feel they have any voice or respect. If practice environments followed established standards for a healthy working environment, the need for unionization would most likely be curtailed. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' standards include a foundation in true collaboration and skilled communication, as well as effective decision making, appropriate staffing, authentic leadership, and meaningful recognition.


Talk to your human resources department and labor counsel. They'll be able to guide you and the entire organization in staff discussions. Address the situation openly and honestly. There are behaviors which violate the National Labor Relations Act and may get you and your organization in trouble. Unfair labor practices include threatening employees or preventing them from exercising their rights to organize, as well as other extreme actions. Concentrate on correcting the reasons for interest in forming a union, fostering a healthy work environment, and following the lead of your labor relations counsel.

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Q Our organization is struggling to decide whether or not to apply for Magnet status. What are some of the benefits and pitfalls of working toward this goal?


There are no pitfalls of taking the journey to Magnet recognition. The benefits are numerous and far-reaching, and include enhanced patient safety, staff morale, recruitment, retention, interdisciplinary relationships, and a competitive advantage that can lead to financial benefits. Even if you don't apply for designation, working toward the goals of Magnet credentialing will lead you to substantial gains.


The Forces of Magnetism guide all of us to excellence whether we're applying for designation or not. Use them in concert withyour organizational objectives to develop a strategic plan for nursing. You have to be well established on the road to meeting the standards before you can apply, including participation in a nationally benchmarked database for nursing-sensitive quality indicators. The American Nurses Credentialing Center Web site offers exam preparation resources, review manuals, sample questions, and more to help you assess your organization's readiness.


In some organizations, Magnet designation is seen as a "nursing thing," which marginalizes the rest of the essential members of the patient care team. In reality, however, it "takes a village," and you won't be living a Magnet culture if all of your departments and staff members aren't on board.