What are the Forces of Magnetism and Why Should Nurses Care About Them?

This blog was updated in October 2020 with the most up-to-date information.

If you work for or want to work for a Magnet hospital, perhaps you’ve wondered where this term comes from and what exactly it means. In 1983, during a nationwide nursing shortage, a landmark research study by the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) Task Force on Nursing Practice in Hospitals identified 14 characteristics that differentiated the hospitals that are best able to attract and retain nurses who promote quality patient, resident and client care.

These traits became the “Forces of Magnetism” that now form the conceptual framework for the Magnet Recognition Program® – a coveted designation that indicates excellence in nursing practice.

The 14 Forces of Magnitude

Here are the 14 characteristics or “forces” of these Magnet-designated organizations:

  1. Quality of nursing leadership
  2. An organizational structure that places nurses in executive positions
  3. A management style that values and encourages employee feedback
  4. Flexible, forward-thinking personnel and staffing policies and programs
  5. Professional models of care
  6. Quality of care
  7. Continuous quality-improvement initiatives
  8. Consultation and resources in the form of nursing experts
  9. Nurses that are empowered to work autonomously
  10. Partnerships between the hospital and community organizations
  11. Nurses as teachers and mentors
  12. The image of nursing as essential to the organization
  13. Interdisciplinary relationships that are collaborative
  14. An emphasis on professional development

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program is detailed on the ANCC website, where you can find a short description of why each of these characteristics provides a roadmap to nursing excellence.

Essentially, these “forces” combine to create a professional environment in which nursing’s contributions are valued and nurses have a voice. Magnet hospitals also have visionary leadership, flexible personnel policies, high-quality care delivery systems, and a culture that values professional development and higher education – all desirable characteristics of any workplace.

Why Should Nurses Care about the Forces of Magnetism?

Nurses who work at hospitals with Magnet designation are assured that they are working for an organization that cares about nurse engagement and fulfillment, but more than that, these organizations value the contributions of nurses. AANC articulates the major benefits of Magnet status from the facility perspective:

  • Highest standard of care for patients.
  • Business growth and financial success.
  • Staff who feel motivated and valued.

For obvious reasons, organizations that inspire nurses to work together for the benefit of the patient achieve the highest level of patient care.

How to Achieve Magnet Status

Applying for and achieving Magnet designation is time-consuming but worthwhile. Healthcare organizations go through several steps:

  • Analyze gaps by comparing their organization’s current performance with the elements of each source of evidence and developing an action plan to achieve higher performance.
  • Access assistance from a senior program officer who works with the Magnet program director to clarify documentation requirements and the intent of the standards.
  • Transform the culture by becoming educated about the Magnet model, creating infrastructure to support programs such as hared governance, quality improvement, peer review, evidence-based practice, collegial teamwork, and nursing research, engaging nursing staff in using these infrastructures, and continually evaluating progress and improvement.

There are a number of eligibility requirements of any organization or healthcare system to achieve Magnet status, including educational requirements, nurse management oversight requirements, regulatory requirements, and more.

To learn more about the processes that organizations go through to achieve Magnet status, visit the ANCC Application Process section of its website.

Education is Key

Working for a Magnet organization is a desirable distinction that many nurses want on their resumes. Magnet hospitals also report a higher percentage of satisfied nurses. But to attain employment at such an organization, nurses must attain a certain level of education:

  • The CNO must hold at least a master’s degree, and if not in nursing, a master’s degree with a bachelor’s or a doctoral degree in nursing.
  • Nurse managers must hold degrees in nursing (bachelor’s or master’s degrees)
  • Other Registered Nurses who may broadly influence or impact the clinical practice of nurses in the organization that are considered nurse leaders must hold bachelor’s degrees in nursing or higher.

Because education plays a major role in Magnet facilities, if your goal is to work for such a nationally recognized institution, it’s important that you continue to further your education.

Explore American Sentinel’s MSN program, which has many specializations, including Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership, Nursing Informatics, and Family Nurse Practitioner, among others.  We also offer a Doctor of Nursing Practice program with four tracks to choose from, including the DNP in Professional Leadership.

Contact an Enrollment Advisor today at 866.922.5690 to learn more about advancing your education.

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