Nurse Magnet Journey: Saint John’s is on track to receive this prestigious designation for its top-rate nurses.

November 30, 2016

SJMSU16_IDG_QA_Cassendra_Munro_640x426_72_RGBSaint John’s Health Center is pursuing the ultimate validation for its excellent nursing care: Nurse Magnet designation. Developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), only 29 hospitals in California and 7% of hospitals nationwide have achieved this credential. Facilitating the program in her role as Magnet and professional practice manager is Cassendra Munro, RN, a perioperative nurse with 23 years nursing experience and 15 years at Saint John’s, where she’s overseen other large projects. Here’s what Cassendra has to say about rising to meet this exciting challenge.

What is the Magnet model?
It’s a guide to excellence in nursing with five specific categories or “domains”: transformational leadership; structural empowerment, often called shared leadership; exemplary professional practice or a high standard of care throughout—above the benchmark; new knowledge innovation and implementation so that the care we provide is cutting edge; and empirical quality results or the measuring of data we collect in the other four categories.

Why is Saint John’s working toward achieving Nurse Magnet designation?
Dawna Hendel, RN, has been looking for an opportunity to make the nurses shine. She’s been the vice president, patient care services (chief nursing officer) for the last seven of her 14 years here. Dawna knows that our nurses provide high quality care, and she wants the hospital be recognized for that care. In fact she’s been preparing us since she stepped into the office, by encouraging a high level of education for our nurses and hiring more nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing. Through a systemic study of actions and their effects related to nursing, we can greatly enhance nursing practice and patient care outcomes.

Why has Saint John’s decided to begin the Magnet process now?
Recently there have been many changes at Saint John’s—new construction and buildings, new ownership, and new representation. Now that we’ve settled into these changes, it’s a good time. There are fewer competing priorities so this Magnet program can be embraced. We can take the standard of care we’re already practicing and raise it to an even higher standard of care.

What are you working on now to achieve this goal?
Our focus this year will be to address the domain of shared leadership. Bedside nurses will identify opportunities in the practice standard and then, in collaboration with our nursing leadership and other care providers, come up with a plan for how to advance that practice. We will need to collect stories to include in the application about how we have implemented shared decision-making and the positive impact it has had on patient care. We will also collect data regarding where we started and compare it to our end results to show how we have developed the modification in our care and made it more efficient or cost effective.

What are the subsequent steps in the process?
After we have demonstrated proficiency in all five domains, our next step is to submit our application. Once we have submitted our application, we will have a stringent survey by the Magnet program evaluators. They will visit our hospital and have conversations with the nurses to ensure the domains are part of their knowledge—that the stories in our application match their experiences. They will talk to patients to get the community perspective. They will speak to our physicians to verify that this truly is a great environment. It’s basically a validation process of these stories.

Finally the evaluators provide an opinion, and the Magnet committee reviews the application and the survey. If all goes well, we will receive Magnet recognition.

How long will the Magnet process take?
The journey is a multi-year process, and I anticipate it will take from two to five years.

How would this recognition impact the hospital?
We will see nursing satisfaction and nursing retention increase, and patient satisfaction scores increasing as well. Magnet recognition is a very prestigious achievement and just as hard to maintain. Dawna has envisioned this acknowledgement because, when we have the recognition, it will validate the excellent quality of nursing we have been providing for years.

To support the nurse magnet journey, contact Irene Bristol, RN, at 310-829-8348 or