How to Achieve Magnet Status: Hospitals Work Their Way Up By Degree 

nurse getting her BSN for hospital's magnet status

One subject on all employers' minds these days is how to keep their workforce competitive. The labor market is tightening and the economy is picking up, spurring innovation and technical growth. The challenge for employers then is to figure out ways to retain their employees and incentivize their workforces to grow along with those developments.

This is true for all employers, but has added weight for healthcare providers. For them, higher degrees aren't just tied to business outcomes, but also to achieving and maintaining magnet status the coveted designation awarded by employing nurses with bachelor's degrees.

Not Just A Benefit A Strategy

But a typical hospital can have thousands of nurses. To shepherd that many people through a program and to achieve magnet status it's going to take much more than merely throwing out the carrot of an education benefit and hoping for the best. You need the operational efficiencies of a carefully thought-out strategy.

This was the case for Cincinnati Children's Hospital as they planned to get 80% of their 3,000 nurses to bachelor's degrees by 2020. Manual tuition processes were, by the hospital's own admission, cumbersome and slow. By automating their program, we gave them a system that would meet both their educational goals and their budget. Some of those features included:

  • Advising employees on what classes to take
  • Expediting degree programs (using previously earned class and experience credits) where possible
  • Maximizing financial aid
  • Offering tuition discounts
  • Ensuring compliance
  • Allowing administration to regularly and easily check in on progress

The ROI of a Well-Designed Education Program

The program made degree-earning financially feasible for employees, saving one nurse $21,000 on her Master's. It also saved the program $450,000 in its first six months.

But financial challenges are only one of the roadblocks to learning and earning. Adult learners also face practical challenges, namely trying to accomplish many tasks (job, family, school) at the same time.

Indeed, being able to afford a degree runs hand-in-hand with being physically able to tackle it. Cincinnati Children's Hospital administrators wisely recognized this up front and chose to provide things like meals and errands (two common casualties in the push-pull between work and life) to support employees' degree pursuits while also reflecting the overall culture of the organization.

"We certainly want our direct care providers to be psychologically and mentally completely ready to deal with and provide expert care to patients and families," Cincinnati's Lynn Hall told CLO.

Educating for Tomorrow's Health

The plan is working, with the hospital on track toward its Magnet goal. This story shows is that education programs have real impact when they're installed as strategies not looked at as merely a benefit.

Employers relying on people to keep their skills current would do well to follow Cincinnati Children's Hospital's lead. The bottom line is that tomorrow's successful companies healthcare or otherwise will have employees who can build and keep building their credentials.

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.