The Journey to Magnet Excellence®, One of Nursing’s Highest Credentials

By Candice Herman, MSN, RN, NEA-BC
Director, Magnet® Program
Methodist Charlton Medical Center


By now, most nurses know or have heard about Journey to Magnet Excellence®. But many don’t really understand or appreciate the work that goes into achieving this prestigious recognition. Why has Methodist Charlton Medical Center, as well as Methodist Health System’s other hospitals, decided to pursue this distinction?

The Magnet Recognition Program®, administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA), is the most prestigious distinction a health care organization can receive for nursing excellence and quality patient outcomes. Organizations that achieve Magnet recognition are part of an esteemed group that demonstrates superior nursing practices and outcomes. (ANCC, 2013)

The origins of the program sprang from the nursing shortages of the 1970s and ’80s. During that time, some hospitals were fully staffed and while others were not. ANA began researching the phenomenon in 1983 and discovered 14 characteristics that differentiated organizations best able to recruit and retain nurses. The characteristics are known as the Forces of Magnetism. They are attributes or outcomes that exemplify nursing excellence. They embody a professional environment guided by a strong and visionary nursing leader who advocates and supports excellence in nursing practice. The Forces of Magnetism include:

  • Quality of nursing leadership
  • Organizational structure
  • Management style
  • Personnel policies and programs
  • Professional models of care
  • Quality of care
  • Quality improvement
  • Consultation and resources
  • Autonomy
  • Community and the health care organization
  • Nurses as teachers
  • Image of nursing
  • Interdisciplinary relationships
  • Professional development.

The Forces of Magnetism are captured in five components that make up the Magnet Recognition Program model, the compass for hospitals striving for Magnet status. The model components include:

  • Transformational leadership
  • Structural empowerment
  • Exemplary professional practice
  • New knowledge, innovations, and improvements
  • Empirical outcomes.

What is my role in helping Methodist Charlton reach its goal? Previously, I helped lead a southeast Texas hospital system achieve Magnet designation as well as one re-designation. One of the first things I did when I started at Methodist Charlton was to conduct a gap analysis between the Magnet standards and our current performance. An example is nursing empowerment. We use a tool called a decisional involvement scale. This tool examines who makes the decision on something and who should make the decision. If there is a discrepancy, we look at what we need to do to change it. We are also identifying improvement projects we can use in the Magnet application.

To say the process is arduous is an understatement. The entire effort requires a healthy work environment, collaborative and collegial team structure, and a focus on the overall benefit of the care we provide our patients and families. One of the biggest values of the application process is that as we gather information, we are realizing just how good we are!

Every nurse I have encountered is so engaged and enthusiastic about the path we are on toward Magnet status. The excitement is very organic. They want to do this because they know we deliver quality patient care, and they want it to be validated via the Magnet recognition.

We are hoping to submit the application to Magnet in February 2017, meaning we are formally on the Magnet journey. We will then have one year to write and submit our documents.

When Methodist Charlton achieves Magnet status, it will mean that nurses will continue to have their voices heard. They will be able to continue to provide excellent care. They will be highly satisfied with their peers and their leadership. Bottom line, they will want to stay at Methodist Charlton where they will be proud of what they do, and they will know that they are continuing to make a difference for our patients and for the community.

If you’re ready to join an organization that is Magnet® bound, choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting

© Methodist Health System


American Nurses Credentialing Center. (2013). Magnet Recognition Program: Application Manual 2014. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Credentialing Center.

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