What is a Magnet Hospital?

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has set the bar for the most rigorous healthcare model when it comes to hospitals and nursing with their Magnet Recognition Program. The AANC was incorporated as a subsidiary nonprofit organization through the American Nurses Association. There are currently 591 Magnet facilities as of December of 2023. To be awarded as a magnet hospital is a great honor. This is the benchmark for nursing excellence, practice, and innovation.

What is a Magnet Hospital?

Back in 1983 the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) Task Force on Nursing Practice in Hospitals did a study to find work environments that retained high quality nurses. The hospitals that possessed these qualities were described as “magnet” hospitals due to the characteristics that drew in well-educated nurses to work for these facilities. Not only do these facilities have highly educated nurses, but they also have great infrastructure throughout their employee hierarchy. The Magnet Recognition Program’s mission is to “continually elevate patient care around the world in an environment where nurses, in collaboration with the interprofessional team, flourish by setting the standard for excellence through leadership, scientific discovery and dissemination, and implementation of new knowledge”. The program’s vision statement is to “transform healthcare globally by bringing knowledge, skill, innovation, leadership, and compassion to every person, family, and community”.

What is a Magnet Hospital

The Magnet Model 5

The ANCC bases their model on 5 components: Transformation Leadership, Structural Empowerment, Exemplary Professional Practice, New Knowledge, Innovation, & Improvements, and Empirical Quality Results. This model is used as a roadmap for organizations to achieve Magnet recognition. Previously this model was known as the 14 Forces of Magnetism. For a facility to be awarded Magnet recognition, they must reflect these components.

Transformation Leadership

Transformation leadership was previously known as the quality of nursing leadership (force #1) and nursing management (force #3). This refers to hospitals having the ability to adjust to the ever-changing healthcare industry. To have transformation leadership the organization must stay on top of updating their values, processes, and behaviors. This requires senior leadership within the hospital organization to enlighten the rest of the team as to why change is important and necessary in all departments. Transformation leadership creates clear visions and expectations for the future of healthcare while motivating others to work towards the same goals. Magnet hospital’s leadership should be embracing atypical solutions and approaches. To have transformational leadership they must advocate and support for all patients and staff.

Structural Empowerment

In order to achieve a comfortable and innovative environment the hospital must reflect the facility’s vision and values. The Magnet model takes into consideration the structural empowerment within the facility. Structural empowerment means that the facility takes all team members opinions and expertise into consideration during a decision-making process. To further strengthen the hospital’s structural empowerment is to practice strong relationships and partnerships that gets developed amongst all types of community organizations. This practice improves not only patient outcomes but the health of the communities they serve as well. The structural empowerment that represents the older forces of magnetism are organized structure (Force #2), personnel policies and programs (Force #4), community and the healthcare organization (Force #10), image of nursing (Force #12), and professional development (Force #14).

Exemplary Professional Practice

Exemplary professional practice is the true essence of a Magnet organization. This entails nurses showcasing competence and accountability in all practices, procedures, systems, and the understanding of the role of nursing. Magnet hospitals should understand the magnitude of the quality of care to the patients, their families, and the community as a whole. The forces of magnetism that is represented in exemplary professional practice is professional models of care (force #5), consultation and resources (force #8), autonomy (force #9), nurses as teachers (force #11), and interdisciplinary relationships (force #13).

New Knowledge, Innovation, and Improvements

As a Magnet hospital they must have professional and ethical responsibility. The building blocks for Magnet hospitals start with strong leadership, empowered professionals, and exemplary practices. In order to be successful, the hospital must contribute to implementing new knowledge, innovations, and improvements. This means including new models of care, application of existing evidence, new evidence, and visible contributions to the science of nursing. The forces of magnetism represented is the quality of improvement (force #7).

Empirical Quality Results

This final component focuses on the processes and structure. When Magnet hospitals apply and follow the first four key models, it’s expected to have superb outcomes. These outcomes refer to workforce, patient, and organizational outcomes which are clinical outcomes relating to nursing.

Benefits of Working for a Magnet Hospital as a Nurse

With Magnet hospitals being the roadmap to advancing nursing excellence, there are numerous benefits to working for a hospital with Magnet status. Hospitals with Magnet status’ serve not only the nurses working for them but also the patients and community. They provide nurses with job satisfaction, a collaborative culture, safe environment, increased success rate, and professional development opportunities.

Job Satisfaction

At Magnet status hospitals nurses experience higher job satisfaction and lower chances of burn outs. According to a Journal of Nursing Administration study performed between 2006 – 2007, they found that nurses in magnet hospitals were 18% less likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs. This also resulted in nurses being 13% less likely to have high levels of burn outs. Since the Chief Nursing Officer must be a member of the hospital’s senior leadership team, they advocate for changes that benefit nurses and in turn raises employee satisfaction.

Collaborative Culture

As mentioned earlier, the Magnet Recognition Program is centered on taking in all team members opinions and expertise in decision-making processes. Magnet status facilities look and treat each department with equal value. By implementing this collaborative culture, together they create improved healthcare services.

Safe Environment

With such high-quality care that Magnet hospitals provide, it correlates directly with safer environments for both patients and nurses. This is due to the higher nurse-to-patient ratios Magnet hospitals require. It allows nurses to be more attentive to their patients since they’re not overwhelmed with the number of patients they are caring for. With the higher nurse to patient ratios, it results in lower mortality rates, fewer complications, shorter hospital stays, and decreased falls.

Increased Success Rate

According to a study done on lower mortality rates in Magnet Hospitals, they found that Magnet hospitals had a 14% lower mortality rate and 12% lower odds of failure-to-rescue. This goes back to the fact that Magnet status hospitals have a higher rate of nurses with bachelor’s degrees and specialty certifications. Studies have also found that there is a decrease in nosocomial infections, hospital-acquired pressure rates, and central-line associated bloodstream infection rates.

Professional Development

Since Magnet hospitals encourage and require nurses to be in leadership roles, they typically support the opportunities to advance education by offering programs to help pay for the cost of tuition. These programs are designed to work around nurses’ schedules by offering classes one day a week.

As of December 2023, 9.4% of hospitals in the US have a Magnet status. That means that there are 563 hospitals across the U.S. that are in the Magnet Recognition Program. Before a hospital can receive Magnet status, they must operate according to the high standard criteria.  After these facilities meet the criteria, it provides staff and patients with significant benefits. By working for a Magnet status hospital, expect to have increased job satisfaction, safe environments, and professional development opportunities.


Closing Thoughts

Out of the 6,000+ hospitals there are in the U.S., only 591 have achieved Magnet Status. This means about 90% of hospitals have not successfully implemented the practices and high quality care that the AANC looks for. With decreased mortality rates, higher nurse to patient ratios, and a collaborative culture, Magnet Status hospitals look out for everyone. Not only do these hospitals benefit their communities but they also serve their employees. When nurses are involved in decision-making processes, they are able to advocate for themselves as well as the patients. If you have the opportunity to go to a Magnet Status hospital as either a patient or an employee, it would be one of the best decisions to make.