Magnet Recognition Program: Indicator of Hospital Quality? Part 1

Magnet Recognition Program: Indicator of Hospital Quality? Part 1

How good is a hospital and its nursing staff? Does it have Magnet status?

The Magnet Recognition Program® was developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to recognize healthcare organizations that provide nursing excellence. The program also provides a vehicle for sharing successful nursing practices and strategies.

The Magnet Recognition program recognizes quality patient care, nursing excellence, and innovations in professional nursing practice. This program provides healthcare consumers with the ultimate benchmark to measure the quality of care that they can expect to receive.

When U.S. News & World Report publishes its annual showcase of “America’s Best Hospitals,” being an ANCC Magnet® organization contributes to the total score for quality of inpatient care.

The Magnet Hospital Recognition Program for Excellence in Nursing Service was established in 1990. This designation was approved by the American Nurses Association (ANA) under the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The number of applicants and organizations has grown since 1994 when the first Magnet award was given.

In 1998, the program was expanded to long-term care facilities. Also in 1998, ANCC established the Institute for Research, Education, and Consultation (IREC). The goal of this institute is to ensure that there are broad and balanced products and services offered. As growth continued in all of the ANCC certification programs, ANCC established an international division to expand to all settings in 1999. 1


The Magnet Recognition Program has the following goals:

  • Identify excellence in the delivery of nursing services to patients, clients, or residents.
  • Promote quality in an environment that supports professional practices.
  • Provide a mechanism for the dissemination of “best practices” in nursing services. 2


To receive Magnet status, an organization, and the nursing services department must have

  • A nursing management philosophy and practices of nursing services,
  • An adherence to quality standards,
  • A chief nursing officer (CNO) supporting professional practice and competence, and
  • An awareness of cultural, ethical diversity of patients, families, and their providers.

A benefit of this designation is recognition in the community. In addition, the organization can have increased utilization, enhanced marketing strategies, and improved nursing recruitment. Stability in nursing care is provided with positive patient outcomes.

Nursing autonomy, in which nurses’ problem solve and actively participate in decision making with positive outcomes for patients and peers, is evident throughout the organization in collaboration with the CNO.


A Magnet hospital may positively contribute to your health and having a successful stay in the hospital. Research projects by Linda Aiken, Ph.D., RN, FAAN indicate that Magnet awardees have similar characteristics:

  • Reduced Medicare patient mortality (death) and morbidity (illness) rates,
  • Reduced mortality rates associated with the care of patients with AIDS in the acute care setting,
  • Increased patient satisfaction,
  • Decreased likelihood of nurses being dissatisfied and burned out,
  • Reduced needlestick injury rate among nurses,
  • Improved patient care ratios, and
  • Powerful and influential CNOs.

See Part 2 in two days.

Modified from Judy Rottkamp, Inside the Healthcare Environment, in Nursing Malpractice, Fourth edition, Lawyers and Judges Publishing Company, 2011

1. Current American Nurses MAGNET Recognition Program Manual, (2008)
2. Id.
3. MAGNET Hospitals Revisited: Attraction and Retention of Professional Nurses, eds M. L. McLure and A. S. Hinshaw, American Nurses Association.

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