UCLA earns 4th National Magnet® Hospital designation for nursing excellence

This prestigious recognition translates to better patient care and clinical outcomes.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (RRUCLA) has been recognized a fourth time by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program® – a recognition called Magnet designation. This latest designation for nursing excellence moves the hospital into an elite group of health care organizations to have been Magnet-recognized four times.

Fewer than 10% of health care organizations out of nearly 6,200 nationwide are Magnet-designated facilities, and fewer than 2% have received the honor four times.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” says Karen Grimley, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, interim chief nursing officer at RRUCLA and chief nursing executive for UCLA Health and vice dean at the UCLA School of Nursing. “This honor means that we have met the highest standards for professional nursing practice and, more importantly, ensures that UCLA Health continues to deliver on its commitment to provide leading-edge care to our community. It is more than a nursing award, it is acknowledgement that RRUCLA as a medical center provides an environment where nurses can excel in their professional practice. Today, Magnet designation is more than an industry standard, it is something that patients and professional nurses look for when choosing a place for care and a place to work.”

Considered the gold standard for nursing excellence, Magnet designation is conferred every four years to health care organizations that demonstrate excellence in nursing and patient care as well as innovation in professional nursing practice. Applicants undergo a rigorous process that includes providing documented qualitative and quantitative evidence for patient care and outcomes, followed by an on-site evaluation.

Grimley says the credentialing process is more than just a list of tasks and activities — it’s about raising the bar year after year. “Our nurses have a professional commitment to excellence that is woven into the UCLA Health culture, which made this fourth designation obtainable.

“I think it says a lot about the camaraderie and the relationships between nurses and nursing leadership. It shows how much we value the efforts of our staff,” Grimley says. “As a nursing organization, we truly recognize that creative solutions and ideas to improve care come from the bedside or the clinical exam room. They come from staff who work in our practice day in and day out as they start to see opportunities for improvement or experience those ah-ha moments.”

What does Magnet status mean for patients? Nurses at Magnet-recognized hospitals tend to be highly educated with higher levels of degrees and specialty certifications, says Lee Galuska, PhD, RN, NE-BC, director for the Center for Nursing Excellence at UCLA Health. As a result, the care is better, the patients are safer and they have fewer complications.

A recent review of literature studying Magnet hospitals versus non-Magnet hospitals shows a 14%-20% lower mortality rate at Magnet hospitals, Galuska says. The incidence of pressure injuries and hospital infections is significantly lower. Patients experience fewer falls and better care at end of life.

“We’re constantly looking at not only outperforming the national benchmarks for all the important nurse-sensitive indicators like pressure injuries, falls and infections, but how can we get to zero harm for our patients,” Galuska says. “That’s one of UCLA Health’s strategic goals and Nursing aligns with that.”

Consumer surveys have shown patients in Magnet hospitals are more likely to be satisfied with their experience and more likely to recommend the hospital, Galuska says. Magnet recognition is also a factor in national hospital rankings, contributing to UCLA Health’s 2020-21 ranking as No. 1 in California and No. 4 in the nation in U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Hospitals Honor Roll.”

Recognition also helps hospitals attract highly qualified nurses. This results in lower turnover, fewer travel nurses and a higher rate of retention, which means cost savings for the organization but — more importantly — consistency in the level of care UCLA Health can provide, Galuska says.

Studies have shown physicians look to be affiliated with Magnet hospitals because they know a strong nursing partnership will produce the best outcomes for patients, she adds.

Organizations seeking Magnet redesignation must provide interim reports showing they continue to meet or exceed Magnet standards. They must reapply for Magnet designation every four years.

This year, the RRUCLA Magnet site visit took place virtually due to COVID-19. Three appraisers evaluated RRUCLA over the course of three days.

“When the appraisers came, they could not say enough about UCLA nursing care,” says Kateri Tobias, BSN, RN, nursing outcomes and Magnet program coordinator for RRUCLA. “They met with nurses from all areas of RRUCLA to validate what was submitted in the Magnet document. They verified clinical nurse engagement and involvement in decision making and asked about structures, leadership and nursing care during COVID. And every single day of those three days they came back and were profuse in their praise. It was very uplifting.”

Although Magnet status specifically recognizes excellence in nursing, Galuska emphasizes the designation is a team effort.

“One of the things that makes Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center a Magnet organization is the culture, characterized by strong interpersonal relationships, healthy communication and authentic leadership,” she says. “Everybody is pulling together to deliver the best care and the best patient experience. The designation is really a tribute to the excellence of the whole organization and everybody on the team. Nursing is part of it, but we don’t do it alone.”

For more information, visit nursing.uclahealth.org.

Jennifer Karmarkar is the author of this article.