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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles CNO joins Commission on Magnet Recognition


The American Nurses Credentialing Center made history in April when it named the first nursing leader from a pediatric hospital to the Commission on Magnet Recognition.

Mary Dee Hacker, RN, MBA, NEA-BC, FAAN, who is CNO and vice president of patient care services at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, begins a four-year term in July on the 11-member board.

Hacker said she believes her appointment was made to help spotlight care for a patient population that typically has been underrepresented — children and families.

“My colleagues in the children’s hospitals — the chief nurses across the country — are thrilled to know that there will be someone at the commission, at that very high level, who understands the uniqueness of the pediatric world — the differences in measurements in pediatrics, the differences in the world of pediatric care, the differences in the expertise of the pediatric nurse,” she said.

Hacker guided CHLA’s effort to achieve Magnet status in 2008 and again in 2013 by overseeing strategy, budget, resources and organizational goals. CHLA is one of 395 hospitals out of about 6,000 total in the U.S. that have achieved Magnet status, and it is one of 29 with the status in California.

“My voice in California, my voice nationally has always been about addressing the needs of the family, and when you’re addressing the healthcare needs of a child, you’re absolutely addressing the needs of a family,” Hacker said.

Hacker has been a nurse for more than 40 years, almost all of that time in pediatrics at CHLA, where she is on the board of trustees. She has helped lead the CHLA RN Residency in Pediatrics, a 22-week program to help prepare new grads and is on the board of the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Foundation.

She is a former chairwoman and member of the nurse executive committee of the California Children’s Hospital Association and had been a member of the Nurse Shortage Task Force of the Hospital Association of Southern California. She was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2010.

“Most people who have worked with me on state initiatives, local initiatives or here at Children’s Hospital … would say I have used my voice to advance the professional role of nursing, the accountability of nursing and the responsibility we have for improving and providing superb clinical care to children and families,” she said.

Those qualities are among the many that made Hacker the right choice, said Linda Lewis, RN, MSA, NEA-BC, FACHE, director of the Magnet Recognition Program.

“She brings to us both the concreteness of day-to-day operations, [and]at the same time academic research that’s necessary to move pediatrics forward. … There is a gentleness about pediatric nursing and that gentleness and visionary piece is something Mary is going to bring to us,” Lewis said.

Hacker is the second member in the commission’s history to come from California, Lewis said, and she adds perspective from a state that has been a leader in nurse staffing and standards. “It’s a perfect fit for Magnet,” she said.

Lewis said the ANCC has set a priority of diversity for the commission in terms of representing various demographics and the complexities of healthcare. Pediatrics, which makes up 8% of Magnet hospitals, was underrepresented.

“It was a piece of the puzzle that was missing,” Lewis said.

The commission includes experts from a wide range of nursing specialties. The group governs program criteria for Magnet status, oversees the review process and makes the final decision regarding who achieves it.

For information on the ANCC, visit


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Marcia Frellick is a freelance writer. Send letters to

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