The Magnet Award is the highest award a hospital can receive for outstanding achievement in nursing services. The ANCC is affiliated with the American Nurses Association (ANA). Rush was notified on May 31 that it would receive the prestigious award.
Hospitals that receive Magnet status are noteworthy for their excellence and innovation in nursing, and evidence suggests that organizations with these characteristics have improved overall patient outcomes. Other studies of Magnet hospitals have shown that they have shorter lengths of patient stay, higher rates of patient satisfaction and greater cost-efficiency.
Rush received Magnet designation after a two-year evaluation process that started with a voluminous application and ended with an exhaustive, onsite inspection by ANCC reviewers in April, said Beverly Hancock, MS, RN, education and quality coordinator at Rush. In order to qualify for Magnet status, Rush first had to meet high standards on 14 core areas and several sub- categories for a total of 95 areas before moving to the full application level.
Eight binders of documentation addressing the 95 criteria for excellence were submitted by Rush. Hancock pointed out that the reviewers are particularly interested in how nurses are reducing medical errors, improving patient satisfaction, raising patient care standards and improving the work environment. Following that application, the ANCC staff conducted an onsite review in early April in which they compared the written responses in the application to what actually happens in each unit. From the onsite visit, the reviewers developed a 150-page report that was scrutinized by an impartial group of judges who were unaware of the identity of the hospital.
"As consumers become more sophisticated and have more choices about where to turn to for health care, we think Magnet status will serve as a strong indicator that they can expect excellent care at Rush from our nurses," said Jane Llewellyn, DNSc, RN, associate vice president of nursing at Rush. She pointed out that many hospitals can make claims about delivering superior care but Magnet status provides Rush with credible third-party validation that nursing care at Rush is excellent. Llewellyn noted that the ANA recommends patients seek out Magnet hospitals in their area for health care. A complete list of Magnet hospitals is available at www.ana.org/ancc/magnet.htm.
"Our patients and physicians have commented for years that Rush nurses were, simply put, outstanding, a cut above the rest. The Magnet award for nursing excellence provides further validation of that opinion. And, even though we have known how great our nurses are, it's great to hear that the word has spread nationally. Congratulations to all Rush nurses," said Dr. Larry Goodman, president and CEO of Rush.
The application included examples of innovative approaches to providing health care or a unique professional commitment to strengthening existing skills. Many nurses have certification in specialty areas, including advanced cardiac life support, pediatric life support, rehabilitation nursing, chemotherapy administration, emergency nursing and critical care nursing. More than 140 Rush nurses are pursuing advanced nursing degrees through the Rush College of Nursing. This reflects their deep commitment to continuous learning.
Another example of innovative care giving described the Rush Mother's Milk Club. Since the mid-1990s this breast-feeding club has provided support and education to encourage mothers of premature infants to participate in the nutrition and feeding of their babies. Under the direction of Paula Meier, RN, DNSc, director of the Rush Neonatal Intensive Care Lactation Program, this program has become a national model. Mothers who deliver preterm at Rush are encouraged to become part of the child's health care team by expressing their milk -- and 95 to 97 percent of them do, as opposed to 35 to 40 percent nationwide.
Magnet status is also likely to help Rush maintain or lower its already low nursing vacancy rate. Other hospitals with Magnet status have been able to reduce their vacancy rate by 50 percent or more. Hancock believes that Magnet status will impress nurses who are interviewing for jobs and have the luxury of choosing where to work in a field with large vacancy rates.
"Even before we were awarded Magnet status, there were nurses who came here to interview because they had heard we were pursuing Magnet accreditation," she said. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing publishes a handout of recommended criteria for student nurses who are interviewing for their first jobs and the questions are similar to those addressed in the Magnet application, so going through this process has also helped us address questions that potential applicants will have," she added.
The concept of a "magnet" hospital for nursing services was initially developed in 1982. The American Academy of Nursing's Task Force on Nursing Practice in Hospitals conducted a study of 41 hospitals to identify and describe variables that foster an environment that attracts and retains well-qualified nurses and promotes quality patient care through excellence in nursing services. These institutions were called "magnet" hospitals because they serve as "magnets" to attract and retain professional nurses. In 1995, the ANA began to officially recognize hospitals with the Magnet designation.
Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center is an academic medical center that encompasses the 824-bed Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital (including Rush Children's Hospital), the 110-bed Johnson R. Bowman Health Center and Rush University. Rush University, with more than 1,200 students, is home to one of the first medical schools in the Midwest, one of the nation's top-ranked nursing colleges, as well as graduate programs in allied health and the basic sciences. Rush is noted for bringing together clinical care and research to address major health problems, including arthritis and orthopedic disorders, cancer, heart disease, mental illness neurological disorders and diseases associated with aging.