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Nurses say Magnet facilities are school friendly
The culture dictates making education fit into daily life for nursing staff
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By Marcia Frellick
EDITOR'S NOTE: Marcia Frellick is a freelance writer.
Higher education and additional certifications for nurses are part of the goals for achieving Magnet® status and nurses and nurse leaders have different motivations and strategies for getting there.
There’s no specific Magnet requirement for how many nurses must have certain degrees, said Mary Beth Kingston, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNO for Advocate Aurora Health, a recently merged health system, with locations in Wisconsin and Illinois, including nine Magnet hospitals. But Magnet organizations do need to show how they are working to increase the number of nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing, she said. “Almost all organizations are moving toward higher education,” Kingston said. “But when you’re a Magnet organization or on the journey, the atmosphere helps you articulate — with education and leadership and quality — how it’s all connected.” The health system provides financial tuition assistance and flexible scheduling so nurses receive the support to pursue higher educational levels. Although flexible scheduling and tuition help are important, “The most important thing is creating that environment of learning and developing — which Magnet helps you do — that makes you want to progress in your career,” she said. Also motivating some nurses is the growing demand for nurse practitioners to be trained at the doctor of nursing practice level instead of the master’s level, Kingston said. Higher education also helps with nurses’ increasingly expanding roles and the move toward team-based care.
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A shift to systemized thinking
Leadership helps guide work-life balance
UC Davis has had Magnet status for four years and Kozlowski says one thing the program emphasizes is transformational leadership and looking to systemwide thinking. For her that has meant looking at all the ways a patient in the hospital is connected to people and industries. “If a patient is in the hospital, the patient is a provider and family member and a worker, so all these other industries are affected by the health of this one person,” she said. “I had never thought about healthcare in that way.” Magnet culture and education are intertwined, she said. “An institution creates an environment that is friendly to going back to school and going back to school fosters a Magnet culture.” Kozlowski said she wasn’t pressured to advance her education, but encouraged to do so with mentorship, tuition benefits and time built in for professional development. She said nurses receive 40 hours for professional leave which can be used for things like conferences or online continuing education. Flexible scheduling also helped her achieve her goals. “I always got the days off I needed for school and I never felt I was a burden to my coworkers,” Kozlowski said. Magnet culture, education and work constantly feed each other. As part of her master’s degree, she conducted a survey at her own hospital as nurses prepared for Magnet recertification. Her project was to identify what they were struggling with and where nurses felt most comfortable in the Magnet process. She said she hasn’t ruled out getting more education. The Magnet atmosphere makes you want more, she said, and when one nurse makes the commitment to get a degree or another certification, others follow, she said.
Leaders go first
Okuno-Jones, who has been in the Advocate system for 31 years, said Magnet designation shifted the culture. “The question was no longer ‘are you going back to school?’ but ‘when are you going back to school?” she said. Now chief nurse executive at Advocate Good Samaritan in Downers Grove, Ill., Okuno-Jones is part of the leadership encouraging students to get higher education. She pursued several certifications of her own in high-risk neonatal intensive care, staff development and as a certified nurse executive. “My personal philosophy is leaders go first,” she said. “It would be hard for me to encourage someone to be certified if I’m not willing to do it myself. It would be hard to tell others they need to get their terminal degree if I was not committed to that myself.” The goals should be the same as they are for physicians, Okuno-Jones said. “I say to my nurses — would you go to a physician who was not board certified in the specialty for which you were going to see them?” she said. “Their answer is 100% no. So then why would it be OK for our specialty nurses to not have that level of expertise? It’s not only important to us professionally but to the patients we serve.” Part of her work toward the DNP she received in 2010 was a project on compassion fatigue. She wanted to study whether it was more prevalent at a certain age or gender or with a certain type of degree. Her school work fed directly back to her professional work, Okuno-Jones said. “The counter measure to compassion fatigue is compassion satisfaction,” she said. “I think that’s been my driver as a leader in engaging my staff.  If I can provide them an enriching environment, they will be more satisfied and have a different level of relationship for those they care for.”
Celebrate achievements
The organization has a certification rate of 47% so far this year for nurses in their specialties, said Lonigan, who has oversight over the Magnet program. “That’s pretty high, but we’re aiming for 50%,” she said. In addition to time off for professional development, tuition help and flexible schedules, nurses are rewarded financially with ongoing stipends as they achieve and reapply for certifications. “In addition, I think we do a great job of celebrating nurses,” she said. Every year, leadership takes out a full-page ad in the Sacramento Bee to honor all the nurses who have been certified. They post certification rates in the units to build internal motivation and put certifications on name badges. Magnet helps foster the atmosphere of “a thirst for knowledge,” she said, which leads to improved outcomes and satisfaction.
When she finished her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota and relocated to Milwaukee, she sought out a Magnet hospital because she knew the designation meant the hospital would support her in pursuing education, career and family and guide her in striking the balance among those sectors. “Support for professional development begins with the leadership that defines the value of ongoing education and supports reimbursement as well as creating a structure that empowers nurses to be involved in decision making,” Marzinski said. Her DNP quest will take another year and a half on top of the more than three she’s already put in because she’s working through the BSN-to-DNP program part-time. “I want to truly enjoy school,” she said. “Going back to school should not be seen as another layer of work, though it is hard. It should be an opportunity to gain knowledge for yourself to share with your family and your organization and develop as a professional.”
“Going back to school should not be seen as another layer of work, though it is hard. It should be an opportunity to gain knowledge for yourself to share with your family and your organization and develop as a professional.”
— Sara Marzinski, RN
Erin Kozlowski, MS, an ICU at University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, said she only recently received her master’s degree, but the effort to get it already has paid off.
Sara Marzinski, BSN, RN, CCRN-K, is pursuing her DNP while she works full time at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, where she is the Magnet program manager.
Susan Okuno-Jones, DNP, was at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., when it achieved its first Magnet designation in 2005. It was redesignated in 2009 and for a third time in 2014. The hospital is now going for its next recertification.
Magnet has supported UC Davis’ mission for inspiring nurses to continually build skills in their specialties, said Joleen Lonigan, RN, MSN, NE-BC, executive director for Patient Care Services at UC Davis Health.
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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.
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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
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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