What is Magnet?
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/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2020, 11

What is Magnet?

You may have heard that Southwestern Vermont Medical Center is a Magnet® Center for Nursing Excellence. Next week, SVMC will undergo a rigorous site visit to determine whether we deserve our fifth consecutive Magnet® designation. Magnet® Recognition requires reapplication every 4 years. If we receive it, we will be the 25th healthcare institution worldwide to have held the designation for five consecutive times. You may be wondering—apart from having really great nurses, which we certainly do—what does that Magnet® designation mean, really?

In the most basic terms, Magnet® recognition is based on exceptional patient outcomes, superior patient experiences, and highly engaged clinical nurses.  In order to retain Magnet® recognition, the organization must consistently improve. That means that our nursing workforce, 250 strong, has been steadily improving care since we began our pursuit of Magnet® in 1998. Those 22 years of continuous effort make a tremendous difference in the care we are able to provide. It’s part of the reason we routinely top national rankings for quality and value.

What’s most remarkable is that the ideas for improvement come from the nurses themselves. While a whole lot of high-level organization and training is necessary to prepare nurses, the creative ideas and implementation strategies are their own. They don’t come down from leadership or a regulatory agency. Nurses see the results of their work and take great pride in their accomplishments.

For example, one nurse, in cooperation with a respiratory therapist, saw the need for quicker response when a patient is at risk of cardiac arrest. They worked together to develop a new overhead page that would get the critical staff members to the patient more quickly. The percentage of patients having a cardiac arrest went from 50 to zero as soon as the intervention was implemented.

Other recent projects have involved gaining specialty certifications or increasing services that help avoid patient transfers to other hospitals. These projects keep patients closer to their homes and family, where they have convenient access to the non-medical support they need.

One nurse was instrumental in helping to create the Psychiatric Urgent Care for Kids (PUCK) together with United Counseling Service. The new location keeps kids experiencing psychiatric distress out of the Emergency Department, which can make the situation even more difficult. It provides an environment more suitable to the care they need. 

Magnet® nurses have been especially valuable during the pandemic. Together with their teams, they have developed the Respiratory Evaluation Center, the virtual waiting room, and systems for securing adequate personal protective equipment. SVMC is proud to have been one of the first hospitals on the east coast to implement drive-up testing. With the empowered, educated, and innovative work of Magnet® nurses and their physician and laboratory colleagues, drive-up testing was a reality less than 24 hours after it was raised as a potential solution to a steep increase in the demand for tests early in the pandemic.

I am deeply proud of our nursing staff for each and every project they undertake to improve care. They make a tremendous difference for patients and for our culture as a provider of exceptional care. I wish them the very best of luck as they approach the challenge of exhibiting their work for review. I have great faith that the quality of their work will shine through in the same ways it does for patients every day.

Pamela Duchene, PhD, APRN, is the vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

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