Magnet® and Pathway to Excellence®Professional Development

Magnet redesignation: A journey well worth taking


Like most healthcare facilities these days, our two-hospital healthcare
system—Raritan Bay Medical Center (RBMC) in New Jersey—has had to cope with economic challenges. So when RBMC’s leaders decided to apply for redesignation as a Magnet® hospital, we saw it as a sign that they were truly committed to the Forces of Magnetism (the features that serve as the conceptual framework for the Magnet appraisal process). Although Magnet recognition entails a financial commitment, RBMC has realized the cost benefits of being a Magnet hospital.

In February 2008, when coauthor Micki Patrick assumed the role of RBMC’s Magnet Coordinator, our redesignation journey had already started. But only a few months were left to submit the required written documentation, and the writing hadn’t even begun. Obviously, we had no time to waste. Fortunately, we had the support of the chief nursing officer (CNO) and the entire senior executive team. Momentum for Magnet redesignation was building.Our Magnet team promoted communication and involvement at every level. As transformational leaders, their transparency proved integral to engaging the staff in the redesignation mission. After all, this was their document. They lived and breathed the Forces of Magnetism. It was up to the “force owners” to express in writing our organization’s culture and the innovations that had taken place at RBMC since we’d earned Magnet status in 2004. We also knew that the bar for obtaining Magnet redesignation is higher: We would have to show we had matured in the past 4 years.

Preparing for the appraisers’ visit

After submitting our 3,143-page document, which was accepted unconditionally, we were granted a site visit. We prepared for the visit thoroughly. All nursing shifts participated in Magnet fairs, which the Magnet team decided would be a fun way to prepare. We wanted to make the staff feel relaxed for the visit so they could show the appraisers their professionalism, pride, and outstanding achievements of the past 4 years. Puzzles, games, rounding, e-mails, FAQ sheets, and a jingle written by one of our Magnet champions filled the days until the site visit.

Coauthor Joan Braun compares the experience to preparing for an extremely important dinner party: Weeks and months are spent in intensive planning. Finally, the day of the dinner arrives: The meal is carefully prepared, the table is set with the finest china and silver, the decorations and centerpieces are meticulously arranged. We’d used the finest ingredients, rehearsed the presentations, and held all involved to the highest standards. Yet we couldn’t help but wonder: Are all the elements perfectly assembled? Are the finishing touches properly placed to ensure the event is truly Magnet-worthy? Have we created an authentic Magnet milieu?

Wowing the appraisers

As it turned out, the answer to these questions was yes. We wowed the Magnet
appraisers. From our first contact with them until their departure, our nursing staff impressed them with their energy, enthusiasm, and spirit.

We knew first impressions counted, so from the start, we set the stage for a
creative, engaging atmosphere throughout the facility. Applause greeted the appraisal team’s arrival. Our chief executive officer, chief financial officer, CNO, nurse educators, and Magnet champions were all present for the occasion and shook hands with each appraiser. The lobby displayed a welcoming banner, as did each unit. Nurses wore flowers, certification pins, and Magnet pins.

Next, the appraisers were serenaded by Bill Petruska, RN, who played the Magnet jingle he’d composed on his guitar. Throughout our facility, appraisers encountered the same warm attitude, which conveyed, “We’re glad you’re here. Come see how proud and Magnetized we are.” Posters displayed the 14 Forces of Magnetism in action, along with our nurses’ professional development accomplishments.

At the end of their visit, the appraisers attended a boardroom summary session, where they were greeted by Milton, our “brain” mascot. An authentic brain model with a
graduation cap symbolizing knowledge and innovation sought through the years, Milton wore blinking electric glasses in the shape of “2009” (our redesignation year). He reflects RBMC’s innovative minds. During the summary session, appraisers were invited to participate in a Jeopardy-like game that demonstrated our professional practice model(PPM) and showed the 14 Forces of Magnetism in action at RBMC.

The site visit was an awesome experience. The appraisers served as knowledgeable role models. They immediately put our staff at ease. We felt fortunate to have had such a great team of professionals appraise our organization. During their visit, we were certain we’d validated and amplified for them what was in our written documentation. Our staff had shown professionalism and enthusiasm. They had demonstrated that they are empowered through our shared governance structures, that our PPM is operational, and that our nursing staff makes positive changes to improve patient outcomes.

We anxiously awaited the outcome of our redesignation venture. Our CNO advised us to be cautiously optimistic.

Victory is ours!

On March 17, 2009, the call came through: We’d earned redesignation with three exemplars—nursing leadership, autonomy, and professional development. The staff’s reaction was thunderous; the pride, beyond words. We celebrated and took a breath before continuing on the journey.

In 2010, we’re focusing on our PPM of patient- and family-centered care, along with the new Magnet model. The nursing profession requires an organizational culture that supports a PPM. (See Synergies between the Magnet model and the PPM by clicking on the PDF icon above.) Our organization has formed transdisciplinary Magnet teams to further enculturate the Magnet philosophy throughout RBMC and to validate and exemplify the purpose, mission, and vision of all disciplines.

Micki Patrick is Director of Magnet/Nursing Organizational Effectiveness and Joan Braun is Director of Staff Development at Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, New Jersey.

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