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A cultural and philosophical change in nurses’ participation in decision making and problem solving is taking place in hospitals across the country, and Rush Oak Park Hospital is at the forefront of the movement.

The hospital recently achieved the coveted Magnet status by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, an organization within the American Nurses Association, for nursing excellence and quality patient care.

Rachel Start, Rush Oak Park’s magnet program director and ambulatory nurse practice liaison, said there’s been a push in the last 50 to 60 years to expand the knowledge base of nursing as a discipline and increase research into the field.

A large-scale study by the American Nurses Credentialing Center in the 1980s, which focused primarily on recruiting and retaining high-quality nurses, later became the foundation for the Magnet program. The study was driven, in part, by a nursing shortage nationwide, Start said.

Only 7 percent of about 5,700 hospitals in the U.S. have earned Magnet status, and Rush Oak Park is one of just 54 hospitals with between 200 to 300 beds to be given the designation, according to a Rush press release.

The months-long evaluation at Rush focused on numerous topics, including quality patient outcomes; improvements to patient safety; patient environments; involving clinical nurses in decision making; professional development of nurses; and retaining quality nurses.

“Being one of only a few dozen hospitals our size in the world to achieve Magnet status is a tremendous honor for our nurses and a clear message to our community,” Bruce Elegant, Rush Oak Park president and CEO, said in a press release.

Collaboration between nurses, physicians and other members of the hospital staff results in better patient outcomes, according to Start. Involving nurses in key decisions throughout the organization gives credence to their input, she said.

She said the hospital’s selection process for nurses – 84 percent of Rush Oak Park Hospital nurses have bachelor’s degrees or above – also played a role in being awarded the Magnet status.

Karen Mayer, vice president of patient care services at Rush Oak Park, said the hospital is focusing on hiring nurses who want to participate in decision making. She said the hospital is looking for nurses “who want to make a difference.”

“It’s a team approach,” she said. “It’s everybody participating in problem solving and finding solutions.”

The Magnet designation comes on the heels of the hospital receiving recognition in fall 2015 by the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. Rush Oak Park was one of 52 participating hospitals have been recognized for meritorious outcomes on surgical patient care.


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