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By Linda H. Aiken, PhD, RN, FRCN, FAAN, Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, and Douglas M. Sloane, PhD - page 9 / 10





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How UC Davis Medical Center ‘Won the Gold’

magine working in an institution that fosters excellence in nursing service and offers holistic, family-centered patient care. Imagine a place where nurses institute change and the administration offers nurses career development guidance, educational opportunities, and support services for complex patient needs. That’s what it’s like to work at my institution, the University of California Davis Medical Center (UCDMC), which is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a magnet hospital for nursing services. I

When UCDMC was designated a magnet hospital in 1997, I felt as if I had won a gold medal at the nursing Olympics. The title gave our nurses the satisfaction of receiving recognition for a job well done.

Months earlier, while reviewing the ANCC standards for designa- tion as a magnet hospital, our application committee happily discov- ered that our nursing department already met most of the standards. We only needed to show the ANCC what we did.

First, we compiled the demographic data that the ANCC requested; then, we divided among our committee members the task of gathering evidence demonstrating fulfillment of standards.

We gathered copies of our nursing structure standards, nursing and hospital policies and procedures, nursing committee mission state- ments and meeting minutes, data from our performance improvement programs, outlines and objectives from classes and competency pro- grams, and sample nursing documentation. We discovered that some evidence of ANCC standards—for example, a hospital event for the staff and the community—wasn’t associated with a formal policy. For this we submitted a copy of a flyer advertising the event or a copy of a newspaper article reporting on it.

We devoted a section of the application to each standard, includ- ing a title page restating the ANCC standard to be demonstrated, a one- to four-paragraph essay describing how we met that standard, and copies of pertinent documents. Before submission, the application was reviewed and edited to avoid redundancy and to identify gaps.

After assessing our application, the ANCC sent two appraisers to our hospital for an on-site evaluation. During that phase, I realized how much magnet hospital designation meant to our nurses. To my delight, our nurses greeted appraisers at each unit and enthusiasti- cally led the visitors on unit tours, eagerly sharing what was special about the unit. Later, at several discussion groups, nurses were invited to answer questions from the appraisers. I joyfully listened to accounts of what our nurses did to implement special programs, improve patient care, and increase staff satisfaction. I wished that every UCDMC nurse could have heard what I did. Until then I hadn’t known about the many ways our nurses made their units better places.

We celebrated our magnet hospital designation with a gala for all of the nurses, and now we hold annual festivities to recognize achievements. Our nurse recruitment department uses our magnet hos- pital designation to attract new nurses, and physicians report that the designation influenced their decision to join UCDMC. Earning magnet hospital designation was like winning at the Olympics, but unlike the Olympics—where only a few can win—being a magnet hospital lets us all win.—Susan L. Vomund, BSN, RN,C, is a clinical resource nurse specializing in perinatal and women’s health services at the University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA

tion and designation program, only 16 magnet hos- pitals have been identified. Moreover, almost 20 years after the designation of the original AAN magnet hospitals as centers of excellence in nursing care and despite substantial amounts of research lit-

erature documenting excellent patient outcomes and nursing practice conditions in these hospitals, the term “magnet hospital” receives little recogni- tion, either among nurses or among other health care providers and consumers.

Our purpose in publishing this paper is to bring to nurses’ attention the potential for magnet hospi- tal designation to provide consumers with a way to help them judge the quality of care in hospitals. More knowledgeable consumers would certainly support the kinds of safeguards that nurses have been proposing for hospitals. A vehicle such as ANCC magnet hospital designation could offer consumers a practical way to “vote with their feet” and to advocate change in their local hospitals.

As a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial noted, “Why hasn’t any area hospital asked the American Nurses Association to evaluate its patient care? There’s been no rallying call, to be sure, from the local hospitals’ trade group—whose representative was mighty quick to suggest that nurses might not be the most impar- tial people to assess nursing care, [but] when it comes to reassuring patients at the bedside, who wouldn’t prefer a nurse to a hospital manager?”26 Staff nurses and their leaders must embrace the idea of magnet hospital status; they must become champions for seeking ANCC recognition to create the critical mass of hospitals necessary to elevate the visibility of this nursing seal of approval to the level of JCAHO eval- uation or other lists of the “best” hospitals. Our research documents that ANCC magnet hospital des- ignation is a valid marker of good nursing care. Consumers are seeking information about quality, and they trust nurses’ appraisals. It is now up to the nation’s nurses to make something of this opportu- nity—for themselves and for their patients.


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JONA • Vol. 39, No. 7/8 • July/August Supplement 2009


Copyright @ 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.

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