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The Power of Accreditation: A Conversation with Dr. Rebecca Graystone of ANCC

ANCC is a leading organization in nursing credentialing and accreditation whose role is to provide healthcare organizations with the tools to demonstrate their commitment to high-quality care.

The Nursing Beat (TNB) team recently attended the ANCC Magnet/Pathway conference in Chicago, IL, and sat down for an exclusive interview Rebecca Graystone, Ph.D., MBA, RN, NE-BC, Senior Vice President for Accreditation and Organization Credentialing at ANCC. Team TNB wanted to delve deeper into accreditation and credentialing in healthcare since they are critical to ensuring high standards and quality patient care. Dr. Graystone shed light on ANCC’s Magnet and Pathway to Excellence programs and their impact on healthcare environments, ranging from small rural hospitals to large academic institutions. She also discussed the value of accreditation for nurses and the role of nurses in shaping the future of healthcare.

The Role of ANCC

ANCC is a leading organization in nursing credentialing and accreditation. Dr. Graystone, who has been with ANCC for five years, oversees individual nurse credentialing programs’ strategic and operational aspects, including Magnet and Pathway to Excellence, and the accreditation of nursing continuing education and practice transition fellowship programs. She emphasizes that ANCC’s role is not about regulating healthcare organizations but providing them with “the tools to demonstrate their commitment to high-quality care.”

Understanding Magnet and Pathway to Excellence Programs

Magnet and Pathway to Excellence are two prestigious accreditation programs offered by ANCC. Although many don’t know the difference between the two, these programs focus on recognizing and validating organizations that go above and beyond in creating positive nursing work environments. 

Dr. Graystone highlighted the differences between the two programs:

  • Magnet: Magnet accreditation emphasizes both the structure and process of healthcare organizations, but it places equal emphasis on outcomes. Magnet organizations are required to measure and benchmark nurse engagement data, patient experience, and clinical indicators. This program aims to create a culture where nurses feel empowered, and patient care outcomes consistently surpass benchmarks.
  • Pathway to Excellence: Pathway also focuses on the structures and processes of healthcare organizations but focuses on work and clinical practice environments. It evaluates whether nurses have a voice and shared decision-making capabilities. Pathway to Excellence also emphasizes nurse well-being, ensuring they have the support and resources they need to thrive.

Accreditation: Not Just for Large Academic Institutions

Dr. Graystone dispelled a common misconception that only large institutions pursue accreditation, “It is a longstanding myth that their smaller rural hospitals are not as well resourced…Magnet organizations range from 20-bed critical access hospitals to 2000-bed international academic medical centers,” and the ANCC’s programs apply to healthcare organizations of all sizes. The key is to use evidence-based standards and embrace a culture of continuous improvement. Smaller institutions often benefit from accreditation by setting themselves apart in the competitive healthcare landscape.

Accreditation in the Current Healthcare Climate

Dr. Graystone explained that accreditation is more crucial than ever in today’s healthcare climate. Nursing environments have always faced challenges, but the spotlight is now shining on nurses due to ongoing healthcare issues. Magnet and Pathway accredited organizations demonstrate their commitment to quality care and patient safety, making them attractive workplaces for nurses seeking safe and empowering environments.

Supporting Nurses and Bridging the Gap

Dr. Graystone addressed the tension that exists between bedside nurses and healthcare managers or directors in the current healthcare climate. “We set the standard and leave it to the organization to do what’s best for them.” Dr. Graystone further explained that the Magnet & Pathway programs ask organizations thought-provoking questions during the certification process, such as, “How are you supporting nurses to be members of professional associations and share their work? How are you supporting leaders in succession planning? What are you doing to build that pipeline and that chain for the next generation of leaders?”

While acknowledging managers’ challenges in balancing healthcare as a business and the need for quality care, Dr. Graystone stressed the importance of a unified voice in nursing. Nurses, management or not, should become more active in professional associations and political arenas to advocate for their profession and their patients.

ANCC’s Role in Nursing Education and Innovation

ANCC provides various opportunities for nurses to enhance their leadership and management skills. While attending the ANCC conference is one such opportunity, there are also scholarships available through sponsors, foundations, and hospital systems to participate in the conference. The ANCC website offers many resources for nurses seeking to improve their practice and knowledge.

The conversation with Dr. Graystone provided insight into the power of accreditation and credentialing in nursing and healthcare organizations. ANCC’s Magnet and Pathway to Excellence programs are pivotal in recognizing and promoting high-quality nursing environments. The commitment to nursing excellence, patient safety, and nurse well-being is more critical than ever, making ANCC’s work in nursing credentialing an essential aspect of healthcare. Nurses can become change agents and set themselves apart in a competitive healthcare landscape by seeking accreditation and advocating for their profession. TNB’s conversation with Dr. Graystone highlighted the value of accreditation and its positive impact on healthcare quality and patient safety.

From left to right: TNB CEO, Tamara AL-Yassin, MBA, BSN, RN; ANCC Senior VP, Accreditation and Organization Credentialing, Rebecca Graystone PhD, MBA, RN, NE -BC; TNB COO, Hannah W. Berns, MHCI, BSN, RN

Hannah W. Berns, MHCI, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, TCRN, has been a nurse for over 11 years. She is the Chief Operating Officer of The Nursing Beat, a nurse-driven digital media company that publishes the only daily newsletter for nurses & allied healthcare professionals.

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