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Several studies have described the work environment of nurses from magnet and nonmagnet hospitals, but there have been no studies of nurses from hospitals in the magnet application process.To compare the differences between characteristics of hospitals and nurses from three hospital types: magnet hospitals, hospitals in the process of applying for magnet certification, and nonmagnet hospitals, and how nurses from these hospitals perceive their work environment.In a national, cross-sectional survey of critical care nurses, the Perceived Nursing Work Environment (PNWE) instrument was administered to measure nurses' perceptions of their work environment.Data were available from 2,092 nurse surveys. Over a third of the respondents were from in-process hospitals and almost half were from nonmagnet hospitals. The majority of nurses were female and from large hospitals in the Atlantic region. The mean age of nurses was 39.5 years and the mean years of work experience in the intensive care unit (ICU) was 10.2 years. Higher nurse scores were significantly associated with magnet certification on one subscale of the PNWE, nursing competence.Nurses from magnet hospitals had a positive perception of nursing competence in their work environment. Further research is necessary to examine the nurse work environment and to determine if the characteristics of magnet hospitals have changed.