In the Magnet-rich Philadelphia Tri-State region, a unique network connects the hospitals that have received the prestigious American Nurses Credentialing Center designation. As a result, 10 healthcare facilities that make up the Philadelphia Area Magnet Consortium have a direct line to a source of support as they work to maintain the culture of nursing excellence.
“In the last few years there’s been a new Magnet application model, and we’ve helped each other to review the new criteria, to interpret it, to share ideas on how to meet those new criteria. That’s a collaborative effort,” said Joan Bretschneider, RN, PhD, a nursing consultant for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Bretschneider, who served as the Magnet coordinator at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 when it first achieved the designation, worked with Carol Chwal, RN, MSN, CHCR, nurse director, professional practice at Abington (Pa.) Memorial Hospital, to create the 2-year-old consortium.
“We’re at all different stages of redesignation,” Chwal said. “The goal is to help each other sustain that Magnet environment and culture.”Tina Martin, RN
In June 2010, the consortium held its first Magnet Champion Conference at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Ten Magnet Champions from each of the member facilities were invited to participate.
“A Magnet Champion is a staff nurse whose role is to educate their unit on all things Magnet. Every nursing unit has a Magnet Champion,” said Tina Martin, RN, MSN, IICU nurse manager and Magnet program coordinator at Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital, which hosted this year’s event.
The annual conference serves as a way to connect these direct-care nurses and help them fulfill their roles as cheerleaders for the practices that earned their facilities Magnet designation in the first place. For example, Martin said the 2011 gathering featured a group activity in which participants discussed the top 10 reasons their respective facilities had achieved Magnet.
“People get excited about Magnet and get revved up about things other people are doing,” Chwal said. “It’s fun to see that.”
This year’s conference coincided with Lancaster General’s effort to obtain its third Magnet designation, Martin said. “Our champions learned a lot about what the survey is going to involve,” she said. “They felt much more comfortable after talking with other champions who have been through this. The networking is the biggest benefit.”Lisa Roman Fischetti, RN
Another goal of the consortium is to collaborate on research projects and evidence-based practice partnerships, said Lisa Roman Fischetti, RN, MSN, OCN, Magnet/special projects coordinator at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia. “To truly be Magnet, each organization has a responsibility to share best practices and innovative ideas to advance the nursing profession,” she said. “The consortium provides a venue for education, research and dissemination of best practices.”
Fischetti and four other members of the consortium have been leaders in the first collaborative effort — nurse-driven emergency management education.
“A survey was developed to assess nurses’ perception of overall preparedness at participating consortium hospitals,” Fischetti said. “Based on results, an educational framework was developed. The anticipated outcome is to improve the quality of patient care during an all-hazard emergency, consistent with Magnet principles of exemplary professional practice.”
Looking ahead, Chwal and Bretschneider envision opportunities for consortium members to collaborate on research projects and serve as resources for healthcare facilities just beginning their Magnet journeys.
“There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Bretschneider said. “The other thing that has resulted is that there’s an ease in picking up the phone and calling a colleague at another hospital to ask if they have any ideas.”
“I am very proud of it and hope it continues for many years,” Chwal said.
Susan Hansen is a freelance writer.