Magnet coordinators share how their nurses have changed since achieving Magnet status and how they have embraced Transformational Leadership, one of the 5 Forces of Magnetism. From participating in decision-making on professional practice councils to reaching out to the community to increase health awareness, obtaining Magnet has motivated nurses to push the boundaries of their practice.
Since we achieved Magnet status in 2006, nurses at all levels have taken on formal and informal leadership roles. Our philosophy is that all nurses are leaders, and each nurse has the responsibility to initiate changes to improve the work environment and enhance patient outcomes. Whether being an advocate for resources, giving input on our modernization project, returning to school for advanced degrees or initiating evidence-based practice changes, nurses are involved in all phases of the processes that improve the quality of patient-centered care.
Transformational leaders, both titled and untitled, can be found at every level. Our direct care nurses are bedside leaders. Good Samaritan’s nurses transform the way the work gets done, cultivate supportive relationships and serve as role models who exhibit influence throughout the organization and motivate others to implement new ideas. The expectation is to be visible, manage change and actively demonstrate abilities as problem solvers while we work to motivate others to be more effective and efficient in their professional practice.
As we heard in a recent workshop, Magnet leadership is not just about doing things “right,” it is about doing the “right thing.” This means finding a way to overcome obstacles. A perfect example of this was our nurses’ response to the Haiti earthquake in January. During the first week of the disaster, 21 nurses from Mount Sinai arrived in Haiti and cared for hundreds of patients despite the lack of basic supplies. While many others joined in the effort, our nurses were among the first to lead the way to recovery.
Transformational leadership is no longer about maintaining the status quo. Nursing organizations must re-think the role of nursing in the new healthcare era. The nurse leader must develop a vision and lead the organization to realize that vision. Carol Porter, RN, DNP, CNO and associate dean of the Center for Nursing Research and Education, laid out a vision last year to develop the center within the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. This collaboration between nursing and medicine is a new and exciting model for nurses to promote the best in research and education.
The nurses at NYU Langone Medical Center always have been at the top of their profession. Magnet designation and redesignation affirmed that status. Since achieving Magnet status, nurses have been more focused on engaging as decision-makers through our councils. We have many nurses involved in defining nursing practice, improving the quality of our care, enhancing our education and furthering nursing knowledge through research.
Transformational leadership has been embraced through a restructuring of the nursing leadership team, which has articulated the vision and strategic plan for nursing. The CNO fosters an environment that ensures engagement of all nursing staff in meeting strategic priorities by communicating expectations, providing the resources necessary for leadership development of clinical staff and establishing a structure that fosters staff decision-making and values innovation and evidence-based practice.
Our nurses have attained a greater appreciation for their role in decision-making. They share in the governance of nursing practice within their units, the department and hospitalwide. They participate in performance improvement teams, committees, councils and task forces aimed at consistently maintaining nursing excellence.
Since they achieved Magnet status, professional nursing certification has become significantly more important to our nurses. They are more aware of the value of formal education, as evidenced by the 77% of our nurses who hold a baccalaureate degree or higher. They understand that evidence-based practice is essential to achieving good patient outcomes and are attuned to that. They encourage collaborative practice with other team members in the hospital and have developed more collegial relationships with physicians and other members of the healthcare team.
At St. Francis Hospital, the nursing department has aligned its nursing strategic goals with the hospital’s goals. We encourage an open-door policy and collaborative approach to achieving these goals. Transformational leaders affect change. In this sense, we are risk takers and eagerly approach new ideas and innovations. Our nurses are highly motivated to be lifelong learners who consistently aspire to deliver a higher level of nursing care. They practice with high ethical standards while being creative, innovative and resourceful and advocating for patients and families.
Our nurses focus on providing skilled, safe and compassionate care while taking a greater leadership role in hospital policy. As someone who works in a Magnet hospital, I believe the difference is evident in our quality and patient outcomes.
In particular, our nurse-driven research projects have influenced significant changes in our practice environment, which have enabled us to identify and address our patients’ most immediate concerns. For example, our recent study of patient falls established clinical guidelines for falls prevention, including hourly rounding and staff education and e-learning programs, resulting in a 36% reduction in patient falls. Our nurses are influencing change for patients and nursing practice.
For patients and their families, I believe Magnet designation is a seal of approval, an assurance they’ll receive quality nursing care. For our nurses, it’s the confidence that comes with working in an environment that values them, respects them and provides them with the resources for delivering the best care possible.
Transformational leadership combines the strengths of leaders and followers with motivation as the binding force. Our nurses play a critical role in shared governance councils, think tanks and committees because we understand how to transform theory into practice. Our contributions help to drive and sustain improvements in patient care and the practice arena. Today, nurses have the opportunity to observe, evaluate and take the lead in revising and implementing initiatives to enhance healthcare practice, hospital policy and quality of patient care. Our nurses are recognized leaders in healthcare, and we’re making a difference.
The formal implementation of a shared governance approach in 2003 has provided the structure and process for our nurses to identify issues and opportunities for improvement and take a leadership role in problem solving. Staff nurses have become more accountable for shaping the practice environment and have learned to be fiscally responsible in their approach.
Our staff nurses make reasonable, sound recommendations and frequently consult literature to guide their decision-making. Our RNs take responsibility for their professional development and are accountable for maintaining high specialty standards. Many voluntarily seek certification in their nursing specialty. In 2009, 130 of our RNs held national certification in a nursing specialty, placing us in the upper half of all Magnet hospitals nationally.
Our nurses, respected for their knowledge and skills, are valued members of the healthcare team. Our shared governance model is made possible by a visionary, transformational leadership team composed of our chief nurse, nursing directors and staff RNs on our Shared Governance councils. We have developed an evidence-based practice culture that enables innovation to flourish. As a result, nurses say their voices are heard, their input valued and professional practice supported.
For Magnet responses from New Jersey nurses visit www.Nurse.com/NewJersey.
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Tracey Boyd and Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, are regional reporters for Nursing Spectrum. Send letters to editorNY@nursingspectrum.com or comment below.