Why does it seem that working for a magnet hospital is a bad thing?

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    I've seen a couple of responses on a couple of threads that imply that working for a magnet hospital is a head-ache, or harder, or not worth it. My understanding is that the whole idea of magnet status is to provide a workplace that is *better* for nurses. How is theory colliding with reality in this situation and resulting in the impression that magnet status is a bad thing?
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  5. 8
    I think there are lots of reasons for this -- and it varies from place to place:

    1. Magnet hospitals are usually bigger hospitals -- and suffer from the problems common to big systems that a smaller system doesn't have to deal with. The free-standing small or mid-sized community hospital may have a more "family feel" than the large corporation and may be able to be more flexible with its policies, etc. to accommodate the needs of individual employees.
    2. Magnet hospitals often require more of their staffs -- have higher expectations. And let's face it, a lot of people just want to do their shift, complete their assigned tasks, collect their paycheck, and go home. Meeting the extra requirments for Magnet requires time and effort and not everyone wants to make that committment.
    3. Not everyone in a Magnet system "does it well." Some people DO interpret the requirements in ways that are unnecessarily burdensome to the staff or just plain ridiculous. Not everyone is brilliant -- and some people get in over their heads with implementing new programs "in the name of Magnet," it gives the Magnet program a bad name.
    4. Some administrators use the Magnet program as a vehicle to accomplish other goals. Others use it as an excuse to justfy doing unpopular things or as a scapegoat to blame when they do something unpopular. They say "We are doing this because of the Magnet Program," when in fact, the Magnet Program does not require it.
    5. The "promise" of the Magnet program gets some people's hopes up to an unrealistic level. So instead of being tolerant of a few imperfections and bumps in the road, they get all hot and bothered about "it all being a big sham." Like the new graduate nurse experiencing reality shock because the reality of nursing is not like her naive fantasies, some nurses experience an extreme disillusionment when they see that the workplace does not become perfect just because the hospital has decided to try to meet the Magnet standards.

    My hospital is currently "on the journey" to become a Magnet facility. Some things have gone very well and we have made some definite improvements that have pleased our staff and our patients. But other things we have tried have not gone well -- and I am sure the people directly involved in some of those things have had some not-so-happy moments.

    Like a lot of things in life. The Magnet Program can be a good thing -- if it is done well -- and the people involved can work together to improve things. But if it is done badly ... or if the team cannot embrace the principles behind the program ... it can lead to some people being unhappy with it. It's best to assess each situation on its own particular details.
  6. 2
    What boosts nursing as a profession might not be what fits in with the individual nurse's wants, needs and desires.
    I am the odd woman out on my unit. I have an ADN(been there forever), am not planning on leaving the bedside, have no certifications or plans for an NP or CRNA or a masters degree.
    The magnet status probably helps my more ambitious coworkers.
    pre-nurseshan and HouTx like this.
  7. 1
    I have worked at truly amazing magnet facilities (like my current one) and magnet facilities that did not deserve to be called magnet (former employer). At my current job nurses are very involved in policy making, committees, and have a voice. Many nurses at my current position are continuing their education in some form. Whereas at my previous job there were committees that nurses were on, but I felt like we weren't really part of the decision making process. Our manager and administration would lecture us like children, and it was obvious we were not equals. Not as many nurses at this facility were continuing their education as there was not much unit support for going back to school.
    pre-nurseshan likes this.
  8. 2
    I agree that it's unfair to place blame on magnet designation when it comes to perceived shortcomings in the way hospitals operate. Although Magnet designation has become a huge marketing ploy for hospitals (and in fact is now factored in the US News Best Hospitals rankings), Magnet or not, hospitals operate based on projected financial targets, a mission statement, and its standing in the community in terms of the type of services it offers. I've worked in hospitals big and small, Magnet and non-Magnet. To me, there are just places that fail to instill pride in being part of their nursing staff by empowering nurses, encouraging advancement, and creating a respectful work environment. These places may never become Magnet facilities. I've also worked in places that never had the resources to achieve Magnet status, yet are great places to work. I currently work in a Magnet facility and to be honest, nothing has really changed before and after we received the designation because all along this hospitals operated in a manner consistent with the ideals of the Magnet program.
    pre-nurseshan and HouTx like this.
  9. 2
    The core of Magnet is supposed to be awarding nurses for best practice that they accomplish every day. My previous hospital is currently in 5th designation process and I was able to fulfill part of my MSN practicum experience with the Magnet Director. When you look at it for what it is, an honor and a hospital mentality it can be wonderful. Many of the new grads I worked with told me they felt the difference in the hospital. However, if you don't have active education what "Magnet means" or your administration is just blowing smoke, it can look like just another task, another requirement, when in fact it is truly the opposite.

    The problem I feel is Magnet can be presented poorly depending on the facility. As ChristineN said earlier "I have worked at truly amazing magnet facilities (like my current one) and magnet facilities that did not deserve to be called magnet (former employer)."
    llg and pre-nurseshan like this.
  10. 1
    I haven't ever worked in a Magnet hospital but I did clinicals in one and the nurses were miserable. Not just one or two bad days, every time we went there they were unhappy - large assignments with ancillary staff cancelled or floated. They all seemed stretched too thin. Though of course that might not be directly related to Magnet.
    pre-nurseshan likes this.
  11. 3
    I think some places get it because they think the magnet status (better hospital) will attract more patients (more money).
  12. 1
    I've worked for 3 magnet facilities. Some were better than others, but none were "bad" places to work.
    pre-nurseshan likes this.
  13. 2
    I work at a magnet hospital and do truly feel I have a better nursing job than at other hospitals in my area. I have a more reasonable assignment, but the expectation is that I'll give better care for that. In my mind, this is ideal. There isn't the physician vs nurse mentality to nearly the degree I've seen in other facilities. We're all on the same team. Most physicians I can go to with my ideas and concerns and they're receptive to my thoughts.

    That all being said, we do tend to go through cycles where we're trying to get our magnet recertified and everything is honky-dory and then right after we get magnet and everything starts going downhill again. This is frustrating.
    pre-nurseshan and HouTx like this.


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