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To test the impact of the implementation of Magnet principles of improving nurses' work environments.Magnet hospital designation developed in the USA in the 1980s to recognise hospitals that had created excellent patient care environments and supported the professional practice of nursing. A pilot initiative in England was the first test of the applicability of Magnet standards outside the USA.Research methods included surveys of nurses in the demonstration hospital in a predesign and postdesign and comparisons to survey results of nurses practicing in a national sample of 30 National Health Service Trusts.Prior to beginning the Magnet journey, the demonstration hospital had a nurse work environment that was somewhat less positive than the national sample NHS hospitals. Nurses practicing in the demonstration hospital were somewhat less satisfied with their jobs than nurses in other NHS hospitals. Following a two-year period during which the evidence-based Magnet standards were implemented and Magnet Designation was awarded, the quality of the nurse practice environment had improved significantly, as had job satisfaction of nurses and their appraisals of the quality of patient care. The quality of the nurse practice environment after Magnet designation was better than that of a national sample of NHS trusts. Improved nurse outcomes were because of the improved practice environment rather than staffing enhancements.Implementation of the Magnet hospital intervention was associated with a significantly improved nursing work environment as well as improved job-related outcomes for nurses and markers for quality of patient care.Nurses can use Magnet principles to improve the quality of their work environments.