Baptist’s Magnet® Designation: Validation for Doing the Right Thing

I’m April Ferguson, a resident of Belhaven and a nurse at Baptist Medical Center. I received my Associate’s Degree from Hinds Community College and will be attending University of Mississippi Medical Center in the fall to acquire a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. I started working at Baptist in August of 20I3 and have worked in the Progressive Care Unit for over three years.

On the morning of March 16, 2017, a group of approximately 200 Baptist employees gathered awaiting what we all hoped to be one of the top honors in our nursing profession. After 10 years of work, people stood in wonder anticipating a phone call. Bobbie Ware, who is now Baptist Medical Center’s CEO, was standing by a phone on a platform. She had been Baptist Health Systems Chief Nursing Office and the Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer. Standing beside her was Baptist’s Vice President of Nursing Brenda Howie and Tina Magers, Baptist’s Nursing Excellence and Research Coordinator. We all waited for the echo of that phone to ring throughout Baptist’s Atrium.

Then, at 10 am, it rang. The news was announced! Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., received the nation’s top honor for nursing excellence called “Magnet.” The Magnet Recognition Program® is given by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC), an affiliate of the American Nurses Association, to hospitals satisfying a set of criteria designed to measure quality patient care and professional nursing practice. Only seven percent of hospitals in America have been granted Magnet recognition and Baptist is the only hospital in Mississippi to receive this designation. No other hospital in Mississippi has achieved this accomplishment.

ANCC defines a Magnet hospital as one where nursing care results in excellent patient outcomes and where nurses maintain high levels of job satisfaction. Magnet status includes various departments throughout the medical center being involved in the evaluation of outcomes and decision-making in patient care delivery. Further, it recognizes that the organization provides resources for nurses to continue life-long learning and shows a low staff nurse turnover rate.

Magnet designation first emerged in 1990 as a way to recognize hospitals that successfully attracted and retained high-quality nurses, even during periods of nursing shortages. The program is now based on five core principles: transformational leadership; structural empowerment; exemplary professional practice; new knowledge, innovations and improvements; and empirical outcomes. Receiving Magnet designation requires evidence of high standards of care achieved by the entire organization.

At Baptist, we always strive to be the best advocate for our patients, placing the patient as well as the family at the center of our efforts. Although family and patients are not as familiar with the accreditation, their appreciation and acknowledgement is apparent through their thank you letters, cards, and gifts of food to nursing staff.

Baptist has implemented a Shared Governance Model of Nursing over the past 10 years. This model integrates core values and beliefs giving all staff, at the patient bedside, a voice in Baptist practices. With nurses working together across departments with shared goals and purpose, much can be accomplished.

Applying for Magnet was an extremely complex process involving months of highly detailed work. The efforts paid off. It demonstrated Baptist is committed to being leaders in healthcare, and reaching Magnet status validates the organization’s work to provide the best care through a team effort and evidenced-based practices. It proved we are doing the right thing.

Even though I was only a part of this journey for the past few years, it was exciting to be a part of it. My area, the Progressive Care Unit, submitted a story that described how nursing management improved the turnover nursing rate in the unit. Changes to the unit were made after the new nurse manager worked closely with nursing staff and noted specific areas that needed improvement, specifically the lack of recognition, scheduling, and call-offs. Staff nurses and nurse managers created an action plan including recognition pins, flexible pins honoring our team. By the second quarter of 2015, the PCU’s turnover rate was zero percent.

Nursing is a tough job. Yet, it’s a not just a job, it’s a passion I have to help people – to nurse them back to health. When I feel overwhelmed or that I’m not making a difference, I think about this Magnet designation. It’s a great reminder that we are, in fact, recognized by not only our own administration but healthcare leaders throughout the country for providing the best possible care. I’m so privileged to have been on this journey with my Baptist family.