POLICY: The Magnet Recognition Programme

A discussion of its development, success and challenges for adoption in the UK

03 August 2015
UK interest in the American Magnet Recognition Programme has grown significantly in recent years in the wake of the Francis Inquiry, and successive reports, which focused on reforming nursing education and promoting the importance of staff retention. This briefing provides a short overview of the Magnet Recognition Programme (as it has been formally known since 2002) and includes a description of what Magnet actually is, a brief history of its development, information on the application process and how it has affected nursing retention and patient care - both in the United States and internationally. 

What the present evidence on Magnet seems to reinforce is that the dynamic between patient outcomes and factors affecting the nursing workforce is a highly fluid mix beholden to unique national and local conditions.

The interaction of these is difficult to understand and so it seems reasonable to assume that while Magnet’s structure has certainly advanced these qualities within the US context and for some healthcare providers overseas, greater flexibility is needed if this is to be replicated more widely in non-US care settings.

Further research linking Magnet to consistent improvements across care settings and better working environments for nurses in the US would be especially valuable - and it is entirely possible that the RN4CAST’s current focus on the US will discover such a link.

This is important because as the NHS continues to struggle with financial pressures in the short term, the adoption of any Magnet approach will need to evidence viable, measurable outcomes in order to justify the significant financial cost for achieving and sustaining this type of award.

If you have any comments or wish to contribute further, please email policy.international@rcn.org.uk

Page last updated - 23/03/2017