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Magnet Champions take the lead

Frontline nurses help guide their peers through the Magnet journey
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By Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN
EDITOR'S NOTE: Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN, is a freelance writer.
Achieving Magnet® status requires a pervasive culture of quality with dedicated staff committed to providing superior care. One integral component in creating that culture is staff who take on the role of Magnet Champions.
Understanding what Magnet Champions do and enlisting their help is vital for hospitals that are working to achieve Magnet status.
Read more about Magnet on our blog
Atmosphere of excellence
So what are Magnet Champions and what do they do?
“Magnet Champions are designated staff RNs from all patient care areas that work to facilitate, enhance and promote an atmosphere of excellence that leads to a Magnet culture,” said John Rice, BSN, RN, staff nurse IV in the surgical ICU at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. “Magnet Champions work to build enthusiasm and help motivate the staff in their units to bring the Magnet culture to life.”
Anna Olszewski, MS, RN, CCRN, clinical nurse III and a Magnet Champion at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif., said Magnet Champions are the “bridge an organization uses to bring information to staff about the Magnet process.
“A Magnet Champion helps make staff feel good about their work,” she said. “We take pride in the patient care we deliver and our organization.
Education is key
Educating staff regarding what achieving Magnet status means for the institution, patients, nurses and the community is a large part of the work of Magnet Champions, said Brian Reinersmann, RN, assistant manager of pediatric outpatient cardiology at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Clinics.

“As nurses, we take pride in our work and providing safe, evidence-based care for our patients,” he said. “Having good communication skills and thinking outside of the box are essential skills for a Magnet Champion to get nurses to tell their stories about the quality care they provide and the work they do every day.”
Magnet Champions use many strategies to educate their staff about evidence-based practices and the process involved in the Magnet journey. Champions typically work closely with the leadership and clinical educators of their institutions and units when planning staff education and training. One-on-one coaching, mentoring, shared governance, formal group educational sessions and monthly newsletters are some of the tools Magnet Champions use to prepare their colleagues for their Magnet journey and site visit.
In addition to traditional training methods, Magnet Champions sometimes organize fun, hands-on activities as preparation tools. Children’s National held a Magnet Fair with a Mardi Gras theme in the main atrium of the hospital, according to Hanscom. “We used cake walks, ball toss games, and a spinning wheel as ways to provide questions about the Magnet journey for the attendees,” Hanscom said.
The event was open to all staff on a voluntary basis, along with patients and families. Game stations were set up with different sets of questions targeted for each group – specific questions for staff, and other questions for patients and families, she said.

At UC Davis Medical Center, Olszewski said “my organization gives us the freedom to teach our staff as we see appropriate to fit the unit’s culture. In addition to formal and informal methods of teaching and educating staff, we also have a unit brag book. Staff can list their successes in it, including community work outside of the hospital. Many of our RNs volunteer on medical mission trips.” Without the brag book, some of their endeavors would remain unknown, she said.
Georgette Smiley, RN, staff nurse II in the otolaryngology/ENT clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said her role as a Magnet Champion is all about guiding and leading staff with evidence-based practices, from simple to complex, to provide the best patient care.
“It’s a humbling experience and an honor to be a Magnet Champion,” Smiley said. “As nurses, we all have a lot to learn from each other, from sharing our mistakes so they are not repeated, looking for better ways to serve our patients and their families, and sharing our successes.

"Nurses do great work every day – it’s all about helping others.”
Magnet Champions are designated staff RNs from all patient care areas that work to facilitate, enhance and promote an atmosphere of excellence that leads to a Magnet culture.” — John Rice, RN
“We assess staff educational needs and learning styles to relay information about the Magnet journey – I enhance what already exists within my unit and amongst my colleagues,” added Olszewski, referring to the high level of nursing knowledge of her peers and the excellent care they provide.
“A Magnet Champion is a clinical nurse who is able to prepare nurses with the knowledge needed regarding what Magnet designation is, what it means for nurses in real-time in relation to their work with patients, and preparing nurses for the Magnet site visit,” said Hannah Hanscom, BSN, RN, CPN, clinical nurse II, shift coordinator on the surgical care unit at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C.
The work of a Magnet Champion is varied. It includes prepping nurses for site visits, helping nurses understand the terminology used by Magnet assessors during site visits, encouraging staff to recognize the good work they do every day, giving staff the tools they need to remember their successes and sharing those successes with the assessors when asked during Magnet site visits, said Yvette Lowry, BSN, RN, adult float pool nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
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Contents
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Understand Magnet nursing
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Interim director discusses past and future of the Magnet program.
Magnet hospitals - nurse giving thumbs up sign
The Magnet difference
Experts discuss some of the unique characteristics of Magnet hospitals.
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Find your Magnet hospital
A breakdown by state of all the Magnet hospitals in the U.S.
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Magnet has global appeal
Hospitals in other countries are seeking Magnet recognition.
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Frontline nurses take the lead
Nurses are taking on leadership roles as Magnet Champions.
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Free CE: From Novice to expert
Build your expertise by adding to your skills and experience.
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Magnet can be a lifesaver
Read first-hand account of how Magnet hospitals saves lives.
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Seeking Magnet: Pros and cons
A look at some of the benefits and costs of pursuing Magnet status.
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Improve patient care
Research suggests Magnet status can improve patient outcomes.
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Nurses battle Hurricane Harvey
Nurses at Magnet hospitals in Houston stepped up during crisis.
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Achieve accreditation
Key steps hospitals can take to help them in the Magnet process.
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Lifelong learning in nursing
Magnet program places a strong emphasis on continuing education.
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continuing education catalog
Continuing education catalog
A look at courses that can help nurses on the Magnet journey.
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APRNs and Magnet nursing
Magnet status can elevate nurse educational standards.
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When you get the Magnet call
Read testimonial from CNO of one of the newest Magnet hospitals.
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What being Magnet means
Learn about the continuing journey of the nation's first Magnet hospital.
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Achieve nursing excellence
Read stories of recent Magnet Nurses of the Year winners.
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It takes a special leader
Find out how transformational leadership leads to satisfaction.
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RNs gain support
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The Magnet culture dictates fitting education into nurses' routine.
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IOM goals are top of mind
Magnet supports education targets for 2020.
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RNs are at the helm
Transformational leadership plays big role in Magnet process.
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