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This study explored the Magnet accreditation process in the first health care organization outside the USA to attempt to gain the award, Rochdale NHS Trust United Kingdom. The development was supported by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a pilot project and the research conducted as a case study in organizational response to the requirements of a new accreditation system.Information was collected via 23 face-to-face and three telephone interviews carried out with 11 senior figures at Rochdale during the 2-year period of the Magnet project, from field notes of meetings attended by the researchers and from analysis of documents associated with the project.The work of applying for Magnet accreditation built upon a previous 2–3 year programme of shared governance and clinical leadership throughout the Trust which senior staff felt had been an essential foundation for the Magnet project. The process enabled staff to assemble evidence which held up a mirror to their practice and contributed to other quality-related initiatives. The experience at Rochdale suggests that Magnet enables care areas to identify and celebrate examples of good practice and for lessons to be learned and shared within the organization. Although the Magnet concept is primarily nursing oriented, medical and allied health professionals were able to contribute and benefit. The application was successful and Rochdale was awarded Magnet status in April 2002.The Magnet project at Rochdale was essentially a process of collecting evidence to formally recognize previous leadership initiatives and their effects within the organization. The emergent approach to implementing the Magnet project was one which attempted to integrate and utilize existing systems and resources. The project provides evidence that Magnet can be transferred to non-US health care systems. The principal issues associated with this transfer were the costs incurred, the interpretation of terminology and the engagement of medical and allied health professionals.