Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health is celebrating another mark of excellence this month. And it’s all about its nurses, the people who hold a special place in the hearts of thousands of patients and their families.
Riley is among an elite group of hospitals to have achieved Magnet status, a national designation recognizing excellence in nursing services and clinical care from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This is the fourth consecutive Magnet designation for Riley, but its first as a standalone hospital.
Currently, only about 8% (roughly 475) of U.S. hospitals achieve Magnet status, and just 15% of those have earned the recognition four times. Riley has held the designation, awarded every four years, since 2006.
It’s a big deal, says registered nurse Kristin Miller. And she should know. She is the Magnet Program Coordinator for Riley.
“It was really an opportunity for us to define what the Riley nursing culture is, as well as look at our excellent nursing outcomes outside of the adult Academic Health Center,” she said. “They raise the bar every year, changing the standards and requirements.”
In the past, Miller said, the hefty application incorporated stories from IU Health Methodist and University hospitals to meet the requirements for documentation and patient outcomes, but this time it was all about Riley, “so it’s pretty cool,” she said.
Magnet recognition is widely considered the highest national credential for nursing excellence and is the gold standard for professional nursing practice.
It’s not an easy task to get the seal of approval from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Miller has been working on the latest Magnet designation pretty much since the last one was achieved four years ago.
“Magnet work never really stops,” she said. “It’s massive.”
Being a Magnet hospital means adhering to a rigorous set of nursing standards and committing to continual improvement. Hospitals that achieve the honor consistently show better patient outcomes, along with better recruitment and retention of nurses, Miller said.
To be considered, hospitals must demonstrate excellence in transformational leadership; structural empowerment; exemplary professional practice; and new knowledge, innovations and improvements. There are multiple standards in each category and layers upon layers of documentation and supporting examples that must be supplied.
Stories accompanying each focus area demonstrate the gains made. In Riley’s case, those narratives highlight the time nurses went above and beyond to secure specialized beds to help treat burn victims, or when they developed procedures to speed up response times in the emergency department. Other examples focused on faster access to treatment for pregnant women suffering severe hypertension and decreasing the rate of hospitalizations for asthma patients through home visits and better access to follow-up care.
Once all of the documentation is submitted, appraisers make a site visit to “verify, amplify and clarify” the work, Miller said. “You can’t just say that’s what you do. You have to walk the walk.”
The Magnet team visited Riley March 25-27.
“It went very well,” Miller said. “They wanted to talk to nurses of all kinds. They talked to interdisciplinary team members – physicians, respiratory therapists, child life specialists, even a couple of patients and family members to make sure that we provide excellent nursing care here at Riley.”
Miller knows what it takes to be a nurse at Riley. She started at the hospital as a student nurse 14 years ago. She has worked as a charge nurse, day shift coordinator and interim unit manager over the years but appreciates the value of what she’s doing now.
“I feel like I’m serving more people in this role and am able to help bedside clinical nurses realize the impact they can have.”
What makes Riley so special that it has achieved this mark of excellence? “It’s the people who work here who are truly committed to the patients,” she said.
Of course, when those patients are children, it makes it even easier to over-perform.
“Everybody’s so motivated to do their best. We have tremendous support from our interdisciplinary team members allowing us to be at the table, to help make decisions, to advocate for our patients. We are lifelong learners and we have resources for professional development. We have to be innovative because we’re blazing the trail for people who deliver pediatric care throughout the nation.”
In the most recent data available, the state with the most Magnet-designated hospitals was Texas with 43, followed closely by Illinois with 42. Indiana has 24 Magnet hospitals.
– By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist