BECAUSE MAGNET RECOGNITION benefits patients, staff, and the community, many organizations are undertaking the challenging process of becoming recognized as a Magnet facility. The preliminary work includes performing a gap analysis, working on areas of weakness, and submitting an application—followed by a stack of written documentation up to 15 inches high. (See How does the documentation stack up?)
If the documents meet the requirements, your organization will be awarded a Magnet site visit. This article outlines the preparation for the visit and the visit itself. Some details vary depending on the organization's size and complexity. For instance, the number of appraisers and the length of the site visit are specific to each organization.
The site visit is your organization's opportunity to show the appraisers how the five Magnet model components have become a part of your organization's culture, so preparation is extremely important. After the site visit agenda is received and approved by all parties, your organization should have an individual or team in place to coordinate the preparation. Choosing the right staff members for each interview, sending invitations, arranging for conference rooms, and choosing meals are time-consuming tasks, but attention to detail helps ensure a successful site visit.
The time between receipt of the site visit agenda and the actual visit will be limited, so preparation must be organized and focused. First steps include prominently displaying the written documents and posting the public notice. This can be accomplished by placing posters throughout your organization in visible locations—for example, in public elevators—and by distributing information through flyers, your organization's website, and e-mails to all staff.
The Magnet appraisers will tour the facility to confirm placement of public notices and location and availability of the written documents. You can use open forums, unit staff meetings, newsletters, intranet news bulletins, and e-mails to accomplish important organizational communication concerning all aspects of site visit preparation.
Calling on champions
If your organization used nurse champions during the document preparation and submission process, now's the time for them to get involved in preparing for the site visit. Nurse champions can help nursing units prepare storyboards about performance improvement, nursing-sensitive outcomes and quality indicator data, and answers to commonly asked questions.
Because the Magnet appraisers allow only nurses to be involved in the unit tours, two or three of your most outstanding nurse champions will be chosen to prepare for the tours. The nurse champions should be familiar with all nursing units both on- and off-site.
Before the site visit, the nurse champions will need time to visit all areas in which nurses work. Your champions will also need a list of all nursing areas and contact information for each.
Get to know your Magnet appraisers. If time permits, read their research and journal articles. Before scheduling their flights, hotel reservations, and meals, find out their preferences.
Because the appraisers set the agenda, if you have questions or need to make revisions to interview dates or times, work with the team leader quickly to make the changes. Be sure to allow enough time to prepare and send letters of invitation to community stakeholders, board members, and physicians.
During the final week before the visit, use the time to prepare the nursing units. The units' nurses may want to display welcome banners, staff photo posters, posters recognizing nurses' accomplishments, balloons, or flowers. The nurse champions may want to have T-shirts made with their theme and names.
Staff can be creative and make the site visit fun. The hard work of document submission is done; now it's time for nurses to shine and tell their stories.
The visitors arrive
To ensure an organized site visit, the Magnet program director or another appointed staff member should be in charge of managing the flow of appraisers and staff to different interviews. If possible, have several conference rooms already set up for scheduled interviews so that rooms can be alternated, allowing for smooth food setup and cleanup following meals and interviews.
The appraisers will need attendance rosters for each interview and nursing unit tour. Because of the detailed information required from each interview participant, having the roster available before the start of the interview will help to allow enough time for completion.
The appraisers will be choosing many staff nurses from all shifts to have a lunch, breakfast, or evening meal with them, so nursing directors may need to staff up for the site visit or have a back-up plan to cover for the nurses invited to attend the interviews.
All employees, patients, and community leaders should be asked and even encouraged to attend the open session on the last day of the site visit. This is a wonderful opportunity for staff to share stories, brag about their organization, and ask questions of the Magnet appraisers. It should be a very positive and therapeutic experience.
Think on it
Following the site visit, reflect on what was learned from the experience and what opportunities for improvement were discovered. This is also a good time to send personalized thank-you notes to departments and individuals who supported nursing during preparation for the site visit, such as food and nutrition services, environmental services, and the marketing department. Reaching this point in the Magnet journey is wonderful, so celebrate your accomplishment!
You've only just begun
After completion of the site visit, the appraisal team will submit a confidential report to the Commission on Magnet Recognition based on its review of the written documents and observations from the site visit. The Commission makes the final decision and informs your organization.
The waiting period for the decision may be several weeks, which can be an anxious time for everyone. Be sure to maintain good communication during the wait time. If you have an internal website for nurses, provide frequent updates.
Most importantly, fill this time with reflections from the Magnet journey and the accomplishments of nursing. Remember that the journey, which has been a valuable time of growth for the organization, doesn't end now. Magnet organizations continually seek excellence and always search for ways to improve for staff, visitors, patients, and the community.
How does the documentation stack up?
Your organization's written documentation (or documentation on a CD) must convince Magnet appraisers that the five Magnet model components of achieving superior performance are part of your organization's culture.
- transformational leadership
- structural empowerment
- exemplary professional practice
- new knowledge, innovations, and improvements
- empirical outcomes.