Program Nurtures and Empowers Nurses to Thrive at the Bedside

Celebrating nurses’ contributions at the bedside


Clinical nurses who serve on the front lines of healthcare shoulder a great deal of responsibility caring for others. They plan and evaluate nursing care, coordinate care of multiple patients, provide patient education and carry out usual care processes, such as administering medications, monitoring patient conditions, maintaining records and communicating with multiple healthcare providers to assure high quality, safe patient care.


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Yet, too often, clinical nurses do not recognize their own clinical leadership potential or understand their crucial roles in leadership within the healthcare system.

The MAGNUS Experience, administered through Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Advanced Practice, offers a unique opportunity for clinical nurses to participate in rich and thought-provoking discussions centered on uncovering each participant’s leadership potential. Each nurse is challenged to “lead from the middle.”

MAGNUS (formerly called LEAD) is a three-month professional enrichment experience. The Latin word MAGNUS, which means “great” and “important,” was selected to convey the scholarship that is required to explore contradictions in health care, and the meaning of and complexities in building relationships. The experience challenges nurses to read more, obtain certification and become active members of their respective professional organizations. Mary Beth Modic, DNP, APRN-CNS, CDE, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Diabetes, Cleveland Clinic, designed the program and facilitates the course with other advanced practice colleagues.

“Rarely are clinical nurses afforded an opportunity to examine their profession and dream for the future,” Dr. Modic says. “I want nurses at the bedside to revel in what they do. I want them to realize that one doesn’t have to have a formal leadership position to impact care.”


The program was initially offered to assistant nurse mangers, but Dr. Modic realized that the audience best suited for the experience was clinical nurses. Many of the participants do not have managerial aspirations but are seeking learning opportunities where they can be challenged intellectually and professionally and appreciated for their commitment to thriving at the bedside.

Over time, Dr. Modic expanded the course content to include more readings on topics which are essential for clinical leadership – communicating empathically, expressing appreciation, and harnessing the science of stamina (through physical and mental nurturing) to remain resilient.


In one article that always surprises participants, the author points out Florence Nightingale’s imperfections – she was difficult to work with and often took credit for others’ ideas.

“They’re stunned by that portrayal,” Dr. Modic says. “But the article illustrates that we are all flawed and also, it provides reflections of the time in which we live.”

In addition to having a required reading list, group discussions are designed so that time is spent in small groups to accommodate those “individuals who may be hesitant to speak up in a large group, but amaze and enchant their colleagues with their opinions in small groups.”

“Appreciative check-ins and outs” encourage empathy and foster relationship building. Participants get to know each other on a personal level and offer examples of what they appreciate in each other.

A popular exercise called “Stepping Stones” requires participants to select six stones from a bowl containing assorted sizes, colors, shapes and textures. Participants choose stones representing individuals who were instrumental in their careers and share the impact of these individuals on their formation and growth with others in their small groups. Many participants shared the experience of reconnecting with individuals who were instrumental and with whom they had lost touch.

“One nurse was nominated for a March of Dimes award,” says Dr. Modic. “At the awards ceremony, accompanied by his parents, he called his former nursing professor and said, ‘I want you to know that I would not be here without you.’”


Focus on clinical nurses

Most participants in MAGNUS are clinical nurses who work directly with patients. “The whole purpose of this experience is to cherish and challenge clinically-based nurses,” Dr. Modic says.

To reinforce the idea that clinical nurses are leaders, Dr. Modic is mentoring MAGNUS alumni to facilitate future cohorts.

“What better way to sustain the program then to mentor clinical nurses who embody the experience precepts?” she asks. “They’re living this work and can appreciate the challenges these nurses confront on a daily basis.”

Dr. Modic adds that feedback she and the other facilitators have received about MAGNUS validate its’ intent. Many have expressed that the experience has been “professionally life-altering.” This sentiment applies to the facilitators as well. “To have the opportunity to interact with such incredibly dedicated, curious and amazing nurses is a privilege beyond measure, and a professional dream come true,” she says.

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