Nurse Talk

Explore practical news and information for healthcare consumers and become more engaged in your healthcare today, from the nurse experts at NJHA.

Aline Holmes, DNP, RN, is the senior vice president of clinical affairs for NJHA, as well as the program co-leader of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative. She leads the New Jersey Hospital Improvement Innovation Network under the national Partnership for Patients initiative. A U.S. Navy Nurse Corps veteran, Holmes completed her doctorate in nursing leadership at Rutgers University. 

Shannon Davila, RN, MSN, is the director of the Institute for Quality and Patient Safety at NJHA. She leads clinical improvement programs under the Partnership for Patients initiative. An infection prevention specialist, Davila was named a 2016 Hero of Infection Prevention by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.


New Jersey: A ‘Magnet’ for Nursing Excellence

The gold standard in nursing is the “Magnet” designation. As a nurse and New Jersey native, I’m proud to say that no other state in the nation has a higher percentage of hospitals that have achieved this important designation for nursing excellence. Nearly half of the Garden State’s acute care hospitals have been awarded the Magnet seal of approval.

This distinction is bestowed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a respected national nursing organization, to hospitals that create an environment where nurses can provide the very best in patient care.

The Magnet program is built on the philosophy that a good work environment, where employees’ expertise is respected and where they have a voice in decisions, will yield high-quality results. That’s a model for any well-functioning, highly productive workplace in any field. But in the highly complex realm of a hospital, where our patients’ well-being is at stake, that philosophy takes on even greater importance.

These “magnetic forces” include several underlying beliefs that respect the education, experience and clinical expertise of nurses. In the Magnet philosophy nurses are seen as the experts in caring for their patients; they are given the latitude to work and think independently; and they are provided opportunities for continuous learning and professional development. At Magnet hospitals, the organizational structure is designed so that all team members have a voice and they work collaboratively. Participation and empowerment isn’t just accepted, it’s encouraged.

For nurses, that leads to increased job satisfaction, decreased employee turnover rates and less job burnout.

So what does this all mean for patients?

Many studies show that hospitals that embrace standards of nurse empowerment, decision-making and professional advancement have better patient outcomes and improved patient safety. I would argue that it’s no accident that New Jersey, with its strong tradition of nursing excellence, ranks 11th best in the nation on the Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Score or that New Jersey surpasses national averages in the Department of Health’s Hospital Performance Report.

In my work at the NJHA Institute for Quality and Patient Safety, empowered nurses are the champions of many quality collaboratives that we use to unite hospitals across the state in a joint focus on a specific health goal, like reducing infection rates or preventing medication errors. Working with nursing teams across the state – with physician and executive champions as well – we have successfully averted more than 77,000 cases of patient harm between 2012 and 2016. And because high-quality care is also cost-effective, that work has also helped us avoid $641 million in healthcare costs in our state.

In my 40-year nursing career, I’ve worked in settings ranging from a Navy hospital ship to a New Jersey emergency room. And I can tell you: When nurses are given the respect and autonomy to make the best possible care decisions, there’s no better formula for excellent patient care.

Aline Holmes, RN, DNP, is senior vice president of clinical affairs for the New Jersey Hospital Association, a healthcare trade organization committed to helping its members deliver high-value healthcare in their communities.

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