Lessons from America? US magnet hospitals and their implications for UK nursing

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Abstract

This paper examines possible implications of the US ‘magnet hospital’ concept for the UK nursing labour market. Magnet hospitals have been researched in the US and have been demonstrated to exhibit lower nurse turnover and higher levels of reported job satisfaction than other hospitals. Key characteristics include a decentralized organizational structure, a commitment to flexible working hours, an emphasis on professional autonomy and development, and systematic communication between management and staff. The paper examines the labour market characteristics of UK nurses and US nurses and finds many sirmlarities. Detailed case studies of employment practice in 10 US hospitals and 10 Scottish hospitals are reported, with specific attention to remuneration practice, methods of organizing nursing care, establishment-setting and flexible hours. The paper concludes that there are features of the magnet hospital concept which are of relevance and applicable to the UK nursing labour market, but that piecemeal importation of ideas is unlikely to be beneficial.

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