The Forces of Magnetism: Core Characteristics to Achieve Magnet Recognition

Shirley H. Morgan, MSN, RN, CNAA, BC


September 27, 2007

The Magnet Recognition Program® was developed to recognize healthcare organizations that transform their work environments to create a culture that values excellence in nursing care and professional practice and that demonstrate an ability to attract and retain professional nurses.

Originally conceived in 1983,[1] the 14 forces of magnetism establish the essential elements or building blocks of excellence in nursing and the provision of high quality care. The Magnet™ program grew out of 41 hospitals selected as "Magnets" by the American Academy of Nursing during the nursing shortage in the 1980s. Though the program has been around for over 25 years, it has been in the last 5 years that it has reached a tipping point. Currently over 250 hospitals nationwide are recognized, including 2 international organizations.

The 14 forces are the characteristics that form the basis for how Magnet recognition is determined (see below). When a Magnet™ environment is fully developed, the Forces of Magnetism are disseminated and become part of the culture wherever nurses practice, positively influencing all aspects of the organization.

There is mounting evidence[2,3,4,5,6] that achieving Magnet™ recognition results in higher nurse satisfaction and a high performing work environment with ultimate benefit to the patients served. Magnet recognition is not a permanent status. It requires a never-ending organizational commitment. Given the current and projected shortage of nurses, pursuing excellence is a key proactive strategy to attract and retain nurses and achieve effective patient care.

Examine the forces and ask yourself how your organization measures up.

The 14 Forces of Magnetism are summarized as follows:


  1. Quality of nursing leadership: Knowledgeable, strong nurse leaders follow a well-articulated, strategic, and visionary philosophy in the day-to-day operations of nursing and demonstrate a strong sense of advocacy and support for the staff and for the patient. There is congruence between the mission, vision, values, philosophy, and strategic plan of nursing and scholarly practice at the patient's side. Nurse leaders seek input from nurses at every level through decision making bodies in the organization as well as other mechanisms.

  2. Organizational structure: The organizational structure is dynamic and responsive to change. Strong nursing representation is evident in the organizational committee structure. The Chief Nursing Officer typically reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer and serves at the executive level of the organization. The nursing organization has a functioning and productive system of shared decision-making/governance.

  3. Management Style: Nurse leaders use a participative management style, empowering nurses at all levels of the organization. Feedback is encouraged and valued. Nurses serving in leadership positions are visible, accessible, and committed to communicating effectively with staff.

  4. Personnel policies and programs: Personnel policies and programs, created with the involvement of nurses at every level, support professional nursing practice, work/life balance, career development, and the delivery of quality care. Creative and flexible staffing models are used that support a safe and healthy work environment. Salaries and benefits are competitive.

  5. Professional models of care: A professional practice model describes how nurses practice, collaborate, communicate and develop professionally to provide the highest quality care for those served by the organizations (patients, families, and community). Nurses create models for the provision of care that delineate the nurses' authority and accountability for clinical decision-making and outcomes.

  6. Quality of care: Nurses serving in leadership positions are responsible for providing an environment that positively influences patient outcomes. There is a pervasive perception among nurses that they provide high-quality care to patients.

  7. Quality improvement: The organization has structures and processes for measuring and improving the quality of care. There is involvement of nurses at every level of the organization in quality improvement. There is ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and improvement of nurse-sensitive outcomes appropriate to the clinical setting(s) and benchmarked with external entities. Research and evidence-based practice are conscientiously integrated into clinical and operational processes consistent with the institutional and community resources.

  8. Consultation and resources: The healthcare organization provides adequate resources, support, and opportunities for the utilization of experts, particularly advanced practice nurses. In addition, the organization promotes involvement of nurses in professional organizations and among peers in the community.

  9. Autonomy: Autonomy in nursing is the ability of the nurse to assess and perform nursing actions for patient care based on competence, professional expertise, and knowledge. The nurse is expected to practice autonomously, exercising independent judgment within the context of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to patient care.

  10. Community and the hospital: Relationships are established within and among all types of healthcare organizations and other community organizations, to develop strong partnerships that support improved patient outcomes and the health of the communities they serve.

  11. Nurses as teachers: Professional nurses are involved in educational activities within the organization and community. Nurses include teaching in all aspects of their practice. There is a development and mentoring program for staff preceptors for every level of students, including undergraduates, new graduates, and experienced nurses. There is a patient and family education program that meets the diverse needs of patients in all of the care settings of the organization.

  12. Image of nursing: The services provided by nurses are characterized as essential by other members of the healthcare team. Nurses effectively influence system-wide processes and are viewed as integral to the healthcare organization's ability to provide care.

  13. Interdisciplinary relationships: Collegial working relationships within and among the disciplines are valued by the organization and its employees. Mutual respect is based on the premise that all members of the healthcare team make essential and meaningful contributions in the achievement of clinical outcomes.

  14. Professional development: The healthcare organization values and supports the personal and professional growth and development of staff; a continuous learning environment is evident. Programs that promote formal education, professional certification, and career development are evident. Competency-based clinical and leadership/management development is promoted and adequate human and fiscal resources for all professional development programs are provided.

Adapted from the 2005 Magnet Application Manual. American Nurses Credentialing Center, (2004). The Magnet Recognition Program, Application Manual 2005. Silver Spring, MD


This content is provided by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for publication on the web site.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC) internationally renowned credentialing programs certify nurses in specialty practice areas, recognize healthcare organizations for nursing excellence through the Magnet Recognition Program®, and accredit providers of continuing nursing education. In addition, ANCC offers an array of informational and educational services and products to support its core credentialing programs.

ANCC is passionate about helping nurses on their journey to nursing excellence. Visit ANCC's web site at

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA).


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