By David Marshall

On Aug. 14, UTMB learned it was granted Magnet Recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Nurses Association.

Simply put, Magnet Recognition is the highest and most prestigious distinction a health care organization can receive for nursing excellence and high-quality patient care.

This was the second time UTMB has earned this elite status, but that makes it no less satisfying. We first became a magnet for nursing in 2005, but, unfortunately, maintaining the status was impossible after Hurricane Ike.

The magnet program began as an idea in 1983, when the American Academy of Nurses, in a study that examined what attracted and retained well-qualified nurses, identified those institutions that were magnets for the best nurses. The qualities are known as the “forces of magnetism,” and there are 14 characteristics required to achieve this elite status.

They include the quality of nursing leadership, organizational structure, management style, personnel policies and programs, professional models of care, quality of care, quality improvement, consultation and resources, autonomy, community and health care organization, nurses as teachers, image of nursing, interdisciplinary relationships and professional development.

UTMB is one of 396 institutions in the United States, less than 10 percent of the total, to hold this distinction. Only 31 hospitals in Texas, including six others in the Texas Medical Center, have earned this elite status.

Achieving this recognition involved a rigorous process that required years of preparation and the active participation and support of every member of the UTMB community. We submitted two years’ worth of data about how we met the mark for excellence. The data was reviewed and a team of reviewers visited all patient care areas to ensure what we said in the written document was actually present.

This was truly a team effort — from the unwavering support and encouragement of executive leadership, physicians, staff and, of course, the amazing nurses who work at UTMB.

Earning this designation is a proud accomplishment for our community. Regaining this distinction is a badge of honor for the nursing professionals, their physician colleagues and all members of the UTMB Health community. And for those who entrust us with their care, it also is a statement about the quality of care they can expect to receive.

The health system, its staff, physicians and, most importantly, patients all benefit from magnet status. Benefits to patients include improved patient results, shorter lengths of stay in the hospital and lower rates of complications. Magnet hospitals enjoy a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining nursing and other health care and medical staff.

I want to congratulate and thank every member of the UTMB Health community who has contributed to and supported this effort, and I want to specifically congratulate the nurses of UTMB Health who work with their health care colleagues to provide excellent patient care. I can’t think of any other group of people that I’d rather be associated with.

Are we proud to carry the magnet designation? You bet. But mostly, we hope that you — our friends, neighbors, patients, families and friends — will be proud as well.

David Marshall is the chief nursing and patient care services officer for UTMB.