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Magnet: nursing excellence

Patients receive some of the best care available with VCU Health System nurses, as proven by the organization’s 2011 re-designation as a Magnet hospital, the highest international credential a health care organization can receive for nursing excellence and quality patient care. The VCU Health System originally received the four-year designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in 2006, becoming the first hospital in Richmond to do so.

“Magnet status recognizes outstanding performance and quality across the organization,” said Deborah Zimmermann, R.N., D.N.P., chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services for the VCU Health System. “This recognition represents the dedication, teamwork and excellence of every VCU Health System employee.”

Magnet designation recognizes excellence in 60 standards that touch all aspects of the field, from organizational planning and leadership to patient outcomes and nursing research. In 2011, two years after the ANCC implemented rigorous new standards, less than 7 percent of the 6,000 health care organizations in the U.S. achieved ANCC Magnet Recognition status. That the VCU Health System received a score of excellent in all of the standards should put patients at ease.

“Magnet is the gold standard,” said Zimmermann, who serves as vice chair of the ANCC Commission on Magnet Recognition, which determines the standards for Magnet designation and re-designation. “It’s a symbol to patients and families that we use good interdisciplinary teamwork, collaboration and evidence-based practice that result in good patient outcomes.”

Over the past decade, the nursing staff has focused its efforts on reducing hospital-acquired infections, hospital-acquired pressure ulcers and patient falls (see figure 1) with a great degree of success. At the same time, patient satisfaction has increased (see figure 2).

“The new Magnet standards require that what is put into practice makes a difference,” Zimmermann said. “Our research shows that we produce better patient outcomes.”

In addition to attracting patients to the VCU Medical Center, the Magnet designation helps recruit motivated nurses who are seeking a supportive professional environment and opportunities for innovation, allowing the cycle of excellence to continue.

“We’re seeing that patients are making choices based on whether or not a health care organization is designated as Magnet,” Zimmermann said. “We also know that nurses are choosing to work for an organization because they are Magnet. Magnet organizations have lower turnover among nurses, higher rates of nurse satisfaction and, the research suggests, better patient outcomes.”