Facilitating the Journey to Excellence: MPD Core Competencies

By Marky Medeiros MSN, RN

For a new Magnet® Program Director (MPD) getting started is the hardest part. Once started the opportunities and job requirements are endless depending on the organization and the MPD’s position in the organization. MPDs starting in new roles may need to become familiar with Magnet® principles, the Magnet Model Components®, sources of evidence, and the process for application. Others may hit the ground running creating a gap analysis, vetting through sources of evidence examples, and making sure the correct data is being collected for the DDCT® (Demographic Data Collection Tool®). All MPDs are responsible for creating, enhancing, and keeping many structures and processes in place so excellence is a way of being in an organization.

In a past article on “what to look for when hiring an MPD”, I outlined characteristics, skills, and attributes to look for when hiring someone into this position. In this article I will outline competencies that are needed to be successful in the MPD position.

MPD Competencies


Core Knowledge
It is absolutely necessary to have in-depth knowledge of the Magnet® principles, how it started, what it stands for and the why behind the sources of evidence, and Magnet® requirements. It is essential for the MPD to understand and be able to articulate why this recognition is important to the organization, the department, the nurse at the bedside and ultimately the patient and family.

Leading Teams
A crucial competency for all MPDs is the ability to lead teams. Usually they are charged with some aspect of overseeing shared governance teams. They often need to lead champion and ambassador teams. In most organizations they are leading writing teams, planning teams, and steering committees. Being competent in leading teams is an important part of the MPD role.

Communication and Collaboration
The MPD in all things, must be able to communicate and collaborate with all members of the health care team. They must be able to communicate with senior executives, boards, foundations, leaders in the organization (nursing and non-nursing) as well as clinical nurses and interprofessional partners, and ancillary departments, and nursing schools or students. They must be able to articulate what is needed to further the culture of excellence, how to analyze and improve outcomes, how to adapt to make changes in the organization, and what is required of every member of the health care team.

Program Management
Anyone who has ever led a journey to excellence knows that there must be a well-defined plan and that project management is a huge part of the plan. This person must be able to think broadly and bring it all together. Organizational skills are important, as well as strategic planning, financial management, and developing a timeline.

Professional Practice
The next competency is professional practice. The MPD must have a solid understanding of professional practice and be able to articulate its importance to all members of the team. They must be able to promote, enhance, lead changes to develop and sustain a professional practice environment. MPDs must have a thorough understanding of shared governance and be willing and able to implement or enhance the council effectiveness in their organizations. They must participate in professional development in the organization and be active in reviewing and developing foundational documents in their organizations.

Coordinating the Journey: Application, Document Creation and Submission, Site Visit, and Ongoing


Application Phase
There are several phases of the journey to excellence and each step of the way calls for competencies in understanding and coordinating the journey. In the pre-application and application phase the MPD must understand the eligibility requirements and what it’s going to take to make the journey successful. There may be structures and processes that need to be present in the organization, there may be outcome data that has opportunity for improvement, there may be leadership education requirements that need to be addressed before a successful application is submitted to the ANCC.

Document Creation and Submission Phase
This is often the competency that most organizations and MPDs think of first when they think about their role as MPD. In reality it is something that is pretty far down the line and inconsequential unless other competencies are attended to first. You must have a culture of excellence in place to write a successful document. You must have teams that understand the purpose. You must have a professional practice environment and on and on.

Document creation is a long process and there are competencies embedded in successful document submission that overlap other competencies. These include adhering to timelines, leading writing teams, having a project plan, and knowing and understanding the sources of evidence.

Site Visit Phase
The competencies around site visit depend on the MPD’s communication and collaboration. They must be able to coordinate a large, often several day events, including travel, room booking, inviting participants to interview meetings as well as preparing the organization for what to expect. Often when MPDs get to the site visit phase they assume it’s smooth sailing but indeed it is a phase that is a logistical challenge for the most competent of MPDs.

Ongoing Phase
In many organizations, once the call comes from the ANCC, the MPD may get pulled into different projects, initiatives, or even different roles in the organization. Being able to keep the organization on track, keep up with the changing requirements, adapting to changes in the organization, and keeping the passion alive in the organization is critical. Ongoing attention to the process is necessary so at the next document submission time there is something to write about, you have the evidence needed, and your outcomes are on track for consecutive designations.

For more information regarding CHCM’s new MPD program based on these competencies contact Marky Medeiros, Amber Orton or Gen Guanci.
We’re offering a new virtual course Facilitating the Journey to Excellence: Magnet Program Director (MPD) Core Competencies starting September 24, 2021.

Learn More and Register

MAGNET®, Magnet Recognition Program®, ANCC Magnet Recognition®, Journey to Magnet Excellence®, Pathway to Excellence® Program, Pathway to Excellence in Long Term Care®, Demographic Data Collection Tool®, and DDCT® are registered trademarks of the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Practice Transition Accreditation Program™ and PTAP™ are trademarks of the ANCC. The products and services of Creative Health Care Management are neither sponsored nor endorsed by ANCC. All Rights Reserved.