Aiken began this work in the early 1980s, as a nursing shortage left many places without the necessary care providers. Yet certain hospitals were somehow immune, not only fully staffed, but with even more clinicians clamoring to join their ranks.
“We decided to study those hospitals to find out what were they doing right,” says Aiken, a professor of nursing. “We found that they were taking some of the same steps that made multinational corporations successful, like engaging the workforce and valuing the internal expertise of their people.”
That research resulted in what’s known today as Magnet designation, a credentialing process for hospitals created in the 1990s by the American Nurses Association. It offers facilities a blueprint for stronger nurse and physician recruitment and retention, better outcomes and shorter stays for patients, and much more. “Everything is just better in a Magnet hospital,” Aiken says.
Aiken and collaborators from KU Leuven in Belgium have now brought the concept to the EU through a project called Magnet4Europe. Since early 2020, 65 hospitals in Belgium, England, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, and Norway have participated in a randomized, waitlisted, controlled trial, with intervention based on a Magnet-focused redesign, plus mentoring from a U.S. Magnet hospital. Aiken and colleagues recently published their research protocol in the journal BMJ Open.
Linda Aiken is a professor of nursing and founding director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, a professor in the Department of Sociology in the School of Arts & Sciences, and a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.
Funding for this research comes from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the project Magnet4Europe: Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Health Care Workplace (Grant 848031).