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Nursing Innovations Improve Patient Care

Conquest - Spring 2011


Barbara Summers, Ph.D., vice president and chief nursing officer (left), confers with 
Patty Johnston, director of clinical nursing, on Floor 16 of the expanded Alkek Hospital.
Photo: John Everett

Nurses reach for excellence, innovation and safety

Note: This is the second of a three-part series on nursing. The third part will appear in the summer issue of Conquest.


By Julie A. Penne

There are many definitions for excellence, but in nursing there is one measure that matters most: Magnet designation.

One of only 378 hospitals worldwide awarded the recognition, MD Anderson has earned the designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Centers three consecutive times.

In fact, with its first designation earned in 2001, the institution is one of the original 50 charter hospitals receiving the Magnet seal.

The full story:

Nurses Find Ways to Own Their Practice

Good Catch Program Eyes Potential Errors

Magnet designation is one of the many components used by U.S. News & World Report in its annual survey of “Best Hospitals,” in which MD Anderson has been the number one cancer center for the last four years. Less than 7% of U.S. hospitals are Magnet-recognized, according to the American Hospital Association.

In addition to the statement it makes about the institution’s quality of patient care, Magnet also communicates to all levels of nurses who work outside of 
MD Anderson that the institution values its nurses and the contributions they make.

Two programs get special recognition

A rigorous process, Magnet re-designation gets more difficult with each renewal, says Jacqueline Anderson, Ph.D., director of nursing programs.

Jacqueline Anderson, Ph.D., director of nursing 
programs (left), and Kimberly Curtin, associate 
director of nursing programs, check in with clinical 
nurses Justin Bull (far right) and Rita Joy (middle), 
and respiratory therapist Jessica Herbrich.
Photo: John Everett

“With each designation renewal, every four years, the bar gets higher, and we’re challenged to show progress, innovation, impact and new goals,” she says. “Our Magnet designation is a great point of pride, but our nursing community never takes it for granted. We treasure it and pursue it because it’s so tough.”

In the completed 2010 application that spanned four large binders, a variety of nursing programs, people and solutions illustrated 
MD Anderson’s innovative approaches to fundamental issues and needs.

When the Magnet announcement was made, the surveyors cited the Good Catch Program for its impact on patient safety and the Nursing Practice Congress for its open outreach to all nurses to take hold of their practices.

For Barbara Summers, Ph.D., vice president and chief nursing officer the past seven years, the definition of nursing excellence is exceptional practice, transparent and effective governance and empowered nurses at the bedside.

“Individual nurses and the nursing community as a whole are demonstrating and returning, in very tangible ways, the extraordinary investment that MD Anderson has made in nursing education, empowerment, leadership and research programs,” Summers says.

“Our nurses have had the power and the autonomy at the bedside all along, but now our community is truly showing its value to the institution, as well as the entire profession.”


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center