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Spreading the Magnetism

When Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C., began its Magnet journey in 2000, it had nowhere to go but up. “The leadership team came in 2000 as part of a new acquisition and turnaround. Nursing and the entire hospital had been in serious financial disarray,” said Molly Billingsley, RN, EdD, NEA-BC, Magnet director and assistant vice president of operations support.

Nursing attrition at the time was about 25% to 30% annually. Only 125 nurses remained and very few patients. “So we rebuilt the entire division of nursing on the Magnet principles. The whole thing was designed from the ground up, building on the remaining strengths,” Billingsley said.

GUH attained Magnet status in 2004 and has maintained it ever since. Because of its dramatic rise to nursing excellence, GUH cut its nursing attrition rate in half — down to 13.6%, below the national average of 14% — and now draws top nursing applicants from across the country. GUH has generated more than 50 nursing research projects, and regularly presents and publishes key findings.

But rather than rest on their laurels, GUH nurses routinely reach out to other facilities embarking on the Magnet journey. “It’s part of being a Magnet facility,” Billingsley said.

GUH has mentored healthcare organizations locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, including programs in Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, Lebanon, Belgium, England, Holland and Norway. In 2007, they hosted a National Magnet Conference that focused on the 14 Forces of Magnetism with presentations by GUH staff nurses, managers and directors.

RNs Kristen C. Hansen, at left, and Molly Billingsley have played a key role in GUH serving as a valuable resource to hospitals aiming for Magnet recognition.

Mentoring is fulfilling and helps establish professional, collegial relationships, said Kristen C. Hansen, RN, MSN, NE-BC, professional practice and Magnet coordinator at GUH. And the feedback from others on GUH’s successful programs can be very validating.

Though GUH readily shares forms, policies, etc., with those initiating the Magnet quest, the process really is a give-and-take, a discussion among peers, she stressed. “It’s not like we’re telling them all the ‘secrets,'” Hansen said. Each facility needs to tailor its processes to its own culture and needs. Overall, Hansen said, “we learn as much from them as they learn from us.”

When GUH works with organizations individually, it tailors the message to meet the facility’s needs, she said. Many want to discuss how to establish a robust nursing research program or how to develop a nursing quality and safety program.

Magnetic story
When Jill Marion, RN, BSN, CRRN, Magnet program coordinator at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland in Rockville invited GUH nurses to her facility, she wanted them to start by telling the interdisciplinary crowd the story of what Georgetown’s Magnet journey was like. The year was 2006, and Marion was trying to gain buy-in from colleagues to embark on their own Magnet process.

“They made people cry,” Marion said. “It was so moving and touching, the place that nursing was at Georgetown and the place where they took it. The story of their journey is what moved everyone. It was really the spark that inspired us to gain some traction behind what we were trying to do.”

The mentoring didn’t end there. “As we’ve hit roadblocks, they’ve helped us troubleshoot,” Marion said.

When Adventist tackled shared governance, GUH shared nursing bylaws and governance structure. “It was very instrumental and helpful to us,” Marion said.

Magnetic circle
Even though Adventist will not apply for Magnet status for at least a year, the facility has begun mentoring others by setting up certified rehab nursing review workshops to help nurses become certified in their specialties and by working with other rehab hospitals just starting the Magnet process.

“We’re doing it because we care about patients,” Marion said. “We don’t just care about the patients in our hospital, we care about the patients in your hospital, too.”

To find a Magnet mentor, Hansen suggests using the American Nurses Credentialing Center website ( and joining a regional consortium as ways to identify existing Magnet facilities to consult.

Billingsley predicts that like GUH, other Magnet hospitals will be happy to lend a hand.

“We’ve never been too busy,” she said. “It’s an honor to be involved in such a noble and worthwhile process.”

Anne Federwisch is a freelance writer.

By | 2020-04-15T13:03:20-04:00 August 8th, 2011|Categories: DC/MD/VA, Regional|0 Comments

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