One of the highlights of my professional career was the phone call from The American Nurses Credentialing Center, a unit of the American Nurses Association, designating Children's Hospital Boston as a Magnet Hospital. This recognition for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice has only been achieved by about 270 hospitals nationwide. I'm sure everyone near and around 300 Longwood Avenue heard the loud cheers from the many witnesses to this call!
The hospital was evaluated on the evidence provided in a document submitted in August, 2007. The document weighed 38 pounds and consisted of nine volumes! Needless to say, this represented countless hours of effort by many nurses and colleagues from other departments.
All of this work led to what was, for me, a real privilege in this process: the three-day visit last November by three nurses who are Magnet appraisers. They spend these days meeting with hundreds of Children's nurses and touring most areas where nurses practice at the Longwood site and throughout Children's network. The appraisers were universally impressed that what they saw reflected what they had read in the document.
The meetings that I participated in were incredible. They were intended to help the appraisers understand my role as the Chief Nursing Officer and to understand the influence of nurses at Children's. Meetings were held with senior management and trustees, the senior physician leaders, community leaders and the deans and faculty of the schools of nursing affiliated with Children's. Over and over again, I heard every participant talk about the integral role of the nurses here and the contributions they make at every level of the organization of the hospital.
The parents of several of our patients also had a chance to speak to the appraisers. One talked about the vigilance of the nurses, while another talked about the attention paid to a 3-year-old sibling of an infant hospitalized in one of our intensive care units, but both stories reflected the family-centered care that makes our practice so special. It was difficult to end these conversations — there was so much they wanted to say about their nurses.
Our physician colleagues spoke about the nurses' partnerships with them, and the appraisers were particularly impressed with the depth and collaborative nature of these relationships. I think we sometimes take for granted the long history of effective partnership we have here between nurses and doctors. This is based, again, on competence, but also on mutual respect and the shared belief that our collective focus must always be on what is best for the children in our care.
Another highlight of the visit was the participation of several youth who are members of our Teen Advisory Council or graduates of the Nursing Department's Student Career Opportunity Outreach Program. These young people talked about how nurses in this hospital influenced them. One, who is a long-term patient here and facing additional major surgery, aspires to nursing as her career. She said, "I have always admired the nurses here, but now I'm particularly impressed with what they know."
What I took away from these meetings was that, despite its focus on nursing, the Magnet education process is not just about nursing. It takes the collective efforts and exerperience of people throughout this organization to successfully care for our patients and families. This is a trademark of what we do here at Children's, and it was reflected in the effort it took to prepare the document and host our appraisers. It was easy to demonstrate this over and over, in our document and to our appraisers. We were incredibly supported by Public Affairs and Information Services in the preparation and submission of our document. Thank goodness for their expertise! Then, the preparation for the visit itself called for cooperation and participation by every department in the hospital. There were countless meals served and meetings held and cleanup required, and they were all incredibly well orchestrated by the Patient Services support staff.
Finally, of course, my deepest thanks go out to the incredible nurses at Children's. I tell them all the time how amazing they are and how privileged I feel to be among them. They are individually and collectively my "Magnet." From the "Magneteers" who led the effort to complete the document, to the Magnet champions, who supported the efforts in ways big and small, to every single nurse in this wonderful hospital, you have my admiration and gratitude.