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Hospitals provide inpatient and outpatient services. Inpatient services provide care to patients that stay in the hospital for an extended period, ranging from days to months. Examples of inpatient services include intensive care units, hospital wards, or surgeries. Outpatient services provide care to patients who come to a hospital for a diagnostic or treatment but do not stay overnight —for example, diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, or health education.

Nurses that work in hospitals have a variety of responsibilities. Besides providing direct care, nurses can also work as managers, administrators, clinical nurse specialists, practitioners, in-service educators, patient educators, and researchers.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, administers the Magnet Recognition Program for Excellence in Nursing. A magnet-designated hospital is a medical facility regarded as the gold standard for nursing practice and innovation. Nurses are empowered to take the lead on patient care and drive institutional healthcare transformation and innovation. The Magnet Recognition Program seeks to improve patient care worldwide by creating an environment in which nurses thrive in collaboration with the interprofessional team, setting the standard for excellence through leadership, scientific discovery, dissemination, and implementation of new knowledge.

Magnet certification is the highest honor bestowed upon hospitals in the United States and worldwide. A medical facility must meet the ANCC's criteria for nursing quality to be accredited as a Magnet hospital. According to the ANCC, magnet designation standards include work environment measurements, nursing excellence, innovations in nursing practice, and excellent patient outcomes.

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