University researchers have found data supporting the benefits of what the American Nurses Credentialing Center calls a “Magnet Recognition Program.”

According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center website, Magnet Recognition helps hospitals attract talented staff, improve patient care and satisfaction, create a collaborative culture, advance nursing standards and grow financial success.

The University hospital is currently seeking magnet status, a process that takes several years.

Christopher Friese, assistant professor of nursing at the University, helps lead and conduct this research to determine whether magnet hospitals are higher quality to begin with, or if they achieve higher quality following the process of recognition.

“One of the areas I’ve explored extensively since I’ve been at Michigan is how nursing care and nursing care delivery — how we organize and and staff nursing care — affects patient outcomes,” Friese said.

In order to research quality of care at hospitals with Magnet Recognition, Friese and his team conducted a national study, looking at thousands of surgical patients and their outcomes post-surgery. They found patients who went to hospitals with Magnet Recognition had better outcomes and lower mortality rates after surgery.

“It is a pretty important finding,” Friese said. “When families ask me where they should go for care, one of the things I often say to them is, ‘all things being equal, look for a Magnet hospital.’”

Amir Ghaferi, one of Friese’s partners in the research and assistant professor of surgery, said the Magnet program is born out of key principles including empowering staff. He said this can make Magnet hospitals more attractive for job-seeking graduates.

However, both Friese and Ghaferi said their findings led them to discover Magnet hospitals were often higher quality to begin with. They said the Magnet status did not necessarily change the standard of care because the hospitals with Magnet status were already high achieving.

“So the question is, by doing all that, can you take a hospital with sub-par outcomes and improve them?” Friese asked. “We find no evidence for that. What we find is that Magnets were better to begin with. They were better years before they were officially recognized, and after they became Magnets their outcomes didn’t improve any more.”

Friese and Ghaferi recommend nursing school graduates seek Magnet hospitals for higher job satisfaction despite the fact that Magnet hospitals are typically high quality before they achieve Magnet status.

“One of the metrics that the magnet program uses is nursing satisfaction,” Ghaferi said. “There’s been many studies done looking at Magnet and non-Magnet with respect to nurse burnout, nurse education level and things of that sort. So there is a clear benefit. If I were a graduating nursing student I would probably seek a job at a Magnet hospital.”

Nursing junior Rachel Kaszyca, who attended a presentation about the University hospital seeking Magnet recognition, said there are certain qualities she will seek in a hospital after she graduates.

“I’ll look at nursing satisfaction to see if they like how the policies work, how the environment is and also patient care quality,” Kaszyca said.

Specifically referring to the University hospital, Kaszyca said she thinks the hospital is already sought out competitively by graduate nursing students, and she doubts whether Magnet status would heighten the number of people seeking jobs there.

“I don’t think getting Magnet status will increase staff that much just because so many of us already want to stay” Kaszyca said.

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