'Adjusting the sails': Hackensack hospital's path to a rare Magnet achievement

Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center has been recertified as a Magnet-designated hospital for the seventh consecutive year. Chief Nursing Officer Ramonita Jimenez, DNP, RN, says the achievement is one any facility can reach; it is all about "adjusting the sails."

Hackensack University Medical Center is one of only two hospitals in the country to ever achieve this seven-time feat. The first was Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta. 

While only 9.4% of hospitals in the U.S. have achieved Magnet designation for quality nursing culture, the achievement has been prioritized by the few that have reached it, including Hackensack University Medical Center. Since 2020, 92% of Magnet-certified hospitals have achieved recertification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Dr. Jimenez told Becker's that even when navigating the pandemic, the medical center prioritized its work to stay compliant with the ANCC Magnet program's rigorous standards because it also helps attract and retain nurses in the middle of a nationwide staffing shortage.

"That's why we call it 'Magnet,'" she said, "because it attracts nurses. There are some nurses who will only work at Magnet hospitals… In order to get there, you have to engage nurses at the bedside and allow their voices to be heard and to be heard at all levels." 

The seventh time is the charm

Neither helping guide a hospital to its seventh Magnet designation, nor being a chief nursing officer were on Dr. Jimenez's professional radar to start out, but doing so has underscored for her how "excellence is a journey, not a destination," she shared.

"John Maxwell has a quote that I share with my team on multiple occasions. It says the following: 'The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails,'" Dr. Jimenez said. "And I choose to be the leader that will adjust the sails."

Adjusting the sails for a CNO really boils down to listening, identifying and implementing new resources, and listening again after they are implemented, she explained. 

Some of the keys to success Dr. Jimenez and her team at Hackensack University Medical Center have used to maintain their Magnet status and improve nursing care range from ensuring there is continual, adequate staffing and managerial support for nurses — particularly those newer to the profession, and constant communication.

Her team at Hackensack uses a digital communication platform that allows nurses to stay in communication with leadership on a weekly basis to provide feedback, insight and wins to highlight.

"We're constantly not only in communication, but we're also checking on them to ensure that that team has what they need to be able to do their job all the time," she said. "The best ideas, and usually the right ideas, actually come from the people who are doing the work. So listening as a leader is critical to ensure that we're providing them with what is needed." 

In addition to communication platform and resource check-ins with teams, Dr. Jimenez said Hackensack University Medical Center continually performs job satisfaction check-ins and monitors nurse and staff engagement. The medical center is also often adjusting aspects of nurse residency programs and onboarding to ensure new nurses are getting adequate support.

The key underpinning all of the work that goes into achieving Magnet status, though, is collaboration, because without it, a hospital cannot have "a culture of nursing excellence," she added.

For hospitals and health systems that may aim to be the third in the nation to achieve seven consecutive Magnet designations, Dr. Jimenez recommends the following: 

  • CNOs should work with the hospital leadership team and garner support for the initiative.

  • Acquire a Magnet program director to oversee the effort.

  • Prioritize nurse engagement.

  • Prioritize ways for staff to give feedback and then listen to it.

  • Make nurse voices heard at all levels. 

"Achieving this is very possible, but you have to do the work, and it is a lot of work," she said. "It's a lot of work to continue to be on the Magnet journey because the bar is very high for an organization like ours."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars