MSK Nurses Receive Highest Honor with Renewed Magnet® Designation

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Elizabeth McCormick, Memorial Sloan Kettering Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer

Chief Nursing Officer Elizabeth McCormick says MSK nurses showed “great resilience” earning renewed Magnet designation while caring for patients during a pandemic.

What the nurse appraiser saw at Memorial Sloan Kettering was so extraordinary, she couldn’t speak. She and two colleagues from Magnet® — a national program that rates top nursing programs around the country — had just left a three-day virtual site visit at MSK. Now, she was on a Zoom meeting with MSK leadership, trying to put into words what she had witnessed.

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“The appraiser was so overcome with emotion she had to defer to one of the others,” says Elizabeth McCormick, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. “When she gathered herself, she said MSK has a nursing culture that other organizations only dream of. It just shows how we continue to raise the bar here.”

In November, for the second time, MSK received Magnet Recognition by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Bestowed every four years, it’s the highest national honor for nursing, given to only about eight percent of hospitals nationwide.

In the 2020 designation, the ANCC cited 12 exemplars — specific examples that highlight excellence in nursing — well beyond the impressive seven that MSK received in 2016. “MSK is the epitome of a learning organization,” said the ANCC in its report, highlighting the many programs that help nurses develop professionally.

For example, the [email protected] program, launched in 2017, guides nurses in developing and publishing manuscripts in clinical journals. Other exemplars recognized MSK’s excellent record in minimizing pressure ulcers and hospital-acquired infections — surpassing national benchmarks in every single inpatient unit. In all, the ANCC affirmed MSK nurses’ superb skills and compassionate care.

It really shows the great resilience they have, to continue coming to work — despite personal risk — and giving care to our patients and supporting them emotionally in new ways, like when they couldn't have visitors.
Elizabeth McCormick Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer

Even more extraordinary, MSK earned the second Magnet recognition as nurses cared for people with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. McCormick says, “It really shows the great resilience they have, to continue coming to work — despite personal risk — and giving care to our patients and supporting them emotionally in new ways, like when they couldn’t have visitors.”

The honor is especially gratifying to Ms. McCormick, who has led the nursing department for 20 years after beginning her career at the bedside herself. In March, she announced she would be retiring from MSK at the end of 2021. “I started out as a nurse to make a difference in the lives of individual patients,” she says. “At MSK, it’s been about supporting the more than 5,000 nurses here so every one of them can give the best possible care.” •

MSK News Spring 2021
Cancer has a strong appetite for sugar. MSK scientists are learning how they can turn this hunger into an advantage, potentially tricking cancer cells into starving and destroying themselves. Read about this important work in our Spring 2021 issue.