When it comes to career paths, nurses have a wide range of choices across today’s nursing landscape.
For instance, Nurse Journal recently featured 31 specialty areas with the highest job growth and salary potential. However, the cost of a master’s in nursing (MSN) program, which typically ranges from $35,000 to $70,000, can discourage many from pursuing an advanced degree. For nurses wanting to bridge from an associate to a baccalaureate nursing degree, the cost, while much lower, ranging from $6,000 to $20,000 overall for a BSN, can be equally daunting if going it alone.
Thankfully, many healthcare organizations help to support nurses in their educational pursuits whether monetarily, with time off, or both. Organizations with Magnet® status place special emphasis on “new knowledge, innovations, and improvements,” encouraging everything from continuing education to higher degrees as a prerequisite for advancement. Those wanting to specialize are encouraged to seek continuing education, certification, and advanced degrees in their field of interest.
While it is difficult to quantify whether working at a Magnet organization better positions you to reach your personal nursing career goals, the spirit of Magnet suggests that your educational aspirations will be acknowledged and hopefully supported. According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, “Magnet-recognized organizations empower nurses to reach their true potential,” providing a “roadmap to advance nursing excellence.”
Five ways Magnet advances nursing by design
First, Magnet nursing cultures embrace continuous learning and growth, which support the program’s framework for high-quality care and job satisfaction. Indeed, the five components of the Magnet Model all require qualified nurse leaders to advance the profession and make a difference:
- Transformational Leadership calls for leaders to communicate and advocate for their teams.
- Structural Empowerment requires organizations to develop partnerships at all levels, identify shared governance processes, and establish professional development improvement goals.
- Exemplary Professional Practice builds a culture based on a professional practice model that focuses on safety and multiple data points to demonstrate satisfaction and clinical indicator performance.
- New Knowledge, Innovation, and Improvements expect organizations to integrate evidence-based practice and nursing research into care.
- Empirical Quality Outcomes (categorized as clinical nursing, patient and consumer, and organizational) follow from strong structures and processes.
To get there, Magnet organizations are duty-bound to build a culture of sustained improvement that supports professional development, provides greater autonomy, empowers more involvement in decision-making, and nurtures interdisciplinary communication and collaboration.
Investing in nurses
While it is a myth that Magnet hospitals only hire nurses with baccalaureate degrees or BSNs, part of a Magnet organization’s “action plan” calls for RNs to progress toward obtaining a BSN or higher degree. This falls in line with BSN levels endorsed by the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) in its landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. At the time, the report predicted that the number of BSN-prepared nurses should increase to 80% by 2020.
To get there, many Magnet hospitals have programs put into place to help pay for the cost of tuition. Most are designed with working RNs in mind and allow for part- or full-time options, often offering classes just one day per week or in the evenings. “The program will introduce you to new concepts and should offer a broader perspective on nursing that will prepare you for leadership roles,” states The University of Texas at Arlington’s online RN to BSN program description.
Greater job fulfillment for nurses
While advancing your nursing career at a Magnet hospital isn’t a guarantee for greater job fulfillment, a growing body of research indicates that Magnet organizations enjoy:
- Lower nurse dissatisfaction and nurse burnout
- Higher nurse job satisfaction
- Lower registered nurse (RN) turnover.
Why? Perhaps the connection between Magnet, advancement, and job satisfaction boils down to organizations taking an active interest in their nurses’ professional development. As part of this, Magnet organizations help nurses create a plan for continuing education, which includes bridging from an associate degree to a BSN or higher degree. This supports the requirement that 100% of Nurse Managers working in a Magnet hospital must have a BSN or graduate degree.
Of course, with advancement also comes opportunity. Given the current nursing shortage and competition between organizations for top talent, higher education makes nurses with advanced degrees more marketable, leading to higher-paying roles and increased influence.
Examples of nurse career growth
At a recent ANCC Magnet conference, Wolters Kluwer interviewed nurses about the educational support they receive at their Magnet organization, including access to Lippincott® Solutions, which contains a wide range of continuing education and professional development opportunities for nurses and nurse leaders. Here are just a few comments:
- “I trust that my organization is looking out for [my] education and our patients’ well-being. I’m excited to get my certified nurse ribbon, as I believe in certified nurses within critical care at our facility. I’ve been nervous about the cost of the educational materials and your Lippincott® platform will help…I can do it without having to bear the burden of the cost.”
– Stephenie Santa Cruz, Confluence Health, Wenatchee, WA
- “It is fantastic to have all of my CEUs in one place when it is time to renew my license.”
– Margaret Hopkins, staff nurse in the NICU at Hackensack University Medical Center
- “In Pennsylvania, 30 credits are required to renew your license every two to three years. That’s a lot of information that is free through your Magnet place of employment. It is a huge perk, a really great benefit.”
– Claire Bethel, PhD, Magnet program director, UPMC Community Osteopathic, Harrisburg, PA
- “I started out as an aide, and now I’m an RN. I’ve learned so much and I’m still learning. When I need to figure out how to do something, I go to the Lippincott® resources.”
– Mackenzie Grady, UPMC Harrisburg, Harrisburg, PA
- “I’ve used the Lippincott® materials and education in my associate degree and BSN programs, and the beginning of my doctoral program. I love nursing education and I hope to help the next generation of nurses become successful and believe in themselves.”
– Jennifer Chuh, Gurnee, Illinois
The ultimate nursing impact
Aside from personal growth and better compensation, education is important in nursing because it supports better patient outcomes. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), “Nursing education level was significantly associated with patient outcomes. Nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level were linked with lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates.” Couple this with results from a study, “Hospitals In ‘Magnet’ Program Show Better Patient Outcomes on Mortality Measures Compared to ‘Non-Magnet’ Hospitals,” and aligning your nursing career growth with a Magnet organization could well be a win-win.
Learn more about how Lippincott Solutions can help nurses acquire new knowledge and advance their careers.