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7 Tips for Packing Your Bags for Your Magnet Journey

By: Gen Guanci, MEd, RN-BC, CCRN, Consultant at Creative Health Care Management 

Summer is here, and many of us have a vacation planned in the near future. If you are anything like me (a planner!), you are making lists, buying new outfits, and coordinating activities to ensure a wonderful vacation. I approach work like I do a good vacation…planning is an essential part of my personality. I could no more take a cruise than start a major project without my eternal lists. I don’t just make lists for the sake of crossing things off. Lists are my work plan, my organizational tool, and my sanity. 

What if we approached a Magnet® journey the same way? What should be on your journey packing list? 

Let’s assume you are just beginning to think about a journey. You’ve already determined the destination, so now it is time start packing. The following tips will help you prepare for your Magnet®  journey. 

Packing Tip 1: Conduct a Readiness Assessment

Some people refer to this packing tip as a gap assessment. Regardless of what you call it, you need to fully understand where you’re starting from and where your challenges are. The wise organization has this assessment completed by an external non-biased individual. If you do this, be sure the individual has many years of experience in a wide variety of organizations that have been successful in attaining Magnet® designation. 

Packing Tip 2: Create your Budget

Your overall journey budget will have elements that are dependent upon your readiness results. In addition, it will be a multi-year budget. Items you want to be sure to include are:

  • initial education costs
  • application fees, including general application as well as appraiser fees associated with document and site visit
  • external consultant journey support fees
  • human resources costs, such as those for a program manager and administrative assistant
  • monies needed to support the structures and processes needed for a successful Magnet ® journey, such as councils, professional advancement program, and nursing research

Other budget considerations include printing or electronic document set-up costs, marketing costs both before and after designation, celebration costs when you receive your designation, and, finally, costs to sustain your designation. 

Packing Tip 3: Educate, Educate, Educate Yourself

When it comes to participating in a Magnet® journey, there is no such thing as too much education. In the time I have been involved in Magnet® journeys, the program has been revised four times. This requires that I constantly refresh my knowledge. Education is available in a variety of methodologies; you can attend workshops and webinars, read the wide variety of articles available, or even join a learning community. 

Packing Tip 4: Educate, Educate, Educate Others

When it comes to education there can never be too much. It’s obvious to most people that an organization embarking on a Magnet® journey must educate its nurses; however, your educational initiatives should go well beyond this group. Be sure to include all of the organization’s stakeholders, since the designation is for the entire organization. The wise program manager educates all departments, leaders, executives, medical staff, and even the Board of Directors/Trustees. In addition, he or she tailors the message to the audience and includes the “what’s in it for me” message. 

Packing Tip 5: Network

Side trips to other Magnet® organizations are extremely helpful. If your organization is a community hospital, the greatest benefit would come from speaking to those from a similar community hospital, as opposed to a large academic medical center. When you do your visit, be sure to set up an opportunity for staff from your organization to speak to peers at the networking organizations. When staff hear the journey stories from peers, they are more likely to be supportive. 

Packing Tip 6: Create a Project Plan

Time flies while on the journey. What might seem like a long time off has a way of rapidly sneaking up on you. The creation of a project plan or specific timeline is crucial to your success. Be sure to include the major milestones or journey phases, such as the getting ready/pre-submission phase, document creation and submission phase, document determination phase, site visit phase, and status determination phase. Each of these phases has several components to them, so be very specific. The more detail you have the higher the likelihood you will not overlook a critical aspect.

Packing Tip 7: Involve the Clinical or Direct Care Nurse

Successful Magnet® organizations involve staff in every opportunity. At site visit, staff will need to be able to speak to how they were involved in items such as the development of the professional practice model and how they are involved in decision-making. Whenever possible always ask yourself, “Which clinical nurse should be involved in this?” 

There are many, many more tips that I could share; however I am a believer in the concept that the human brain can only remember seven items at a time. I also know that many of you already have success tips. So what are your packing tips? 

As a consultant at Creative Health Care Management, Gen is focused on advancing nursing as a profession and nursing professional development. Whether it’s educating on Relationship-Based Care, helping education departments with structure and competency metrics, or guiding organizations as they establish a culture of excellence, including the journey to Magnet®designation, Gen sees the possibilities in all of her clients. Gen can be contacted at gguanci@chcm.com

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