ANCC's Pathway to Excellence Program

Ellen Swartwout, RN, MSN, NEA-BC


March 05, 2010

In This Article

The Vision for the Pathway to Excellence Program

A vision is a statement about the desired future. When thinking about the future, Pathway to Excellence healthcare organizations will be known for creating work environments where nurses can flourish. They will be places identified as nursing practice settings where a collaborative atmosphere prevails with a positive impact on nurse job satisfaction and retention. They will be seen as best places to work because a balanced lifestyle is encouraged, where nurses feel their contributions are valued as patient care partners in health care to the community.

Pathway to Excellence Standards

Based on evidence and expert nurse input, the Pathway to Excellence Practice Standards represent qualities that both nurses and researchers agree are critical to high quality nursing practice, professional development, and job satisfaction. ANCC encourages the use of these standards in all nursing practice environments. The Pathway to Excellence practice standards are:

  1. Nurses Control the Practice of Nursing

  2. The Work Environment is Safe and Healthy

  3. Systems are in Place to Address Patient Care and Practice Concerns

  4. Orientation Prepares New Nurses

  5. The Chief Nursing Officer is Qualified and Participates in all Levels

  6. Professional Development is Provided and Utilized

  7. Competitive Wages/Salaries are in Place

  8. Nurses are Recognized for Achievements

  9. A Balanced Lifestyle is Encouraged

  10. Collaborative Interdisciplinary Relationships are Valued and Supported

  11. Nurse Managers are Competent and Accountable

  12. A Quality Program and Evidence-Based Practices are Utilized

What Makes this Program Unique?

ANCC’s Pathway to Excellence Program® recognizes the foundational elements of an ideal nursing practice environment whereas the Magnet Recognition Program® recognizes excellence in nursing and patient care. Pathway to Excellence standards focus on the workplace, a balanced lifestyle for nurses, and policies and procedures that support nurses on the job. Written documentation and a confidential, online nurse survey confirm the standards are met.

Is Your Organization Ready?

Use the Pathway to Excellence self-assessment tool to determine if your organization is ready to begin the application process. E-mail the Pathway to Excellence Program Office at if you have questions.

Learn More

Watch for upcoming articles with more information about the Pathway to Excellence program. Topics include:

  • The Many Benefits of Pathway to Excellence Designation

  • Getting Started: Organizational Assessment and Gap Analysis

  • The 12 Practice Standards and Elements of Performance

  • How to Apply for Pathway to Excellence Designation

  • The Pathway to Excellence Designation Evaluation Process

  • Case Study: A Pathway to Excellence Facility

This content is provided by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for publication on the website.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC)internationally renowned credentialing programs certify nurses in specialty practice areas, recognize healthcare organizations for nursing excellence throughthe Magnet Recognition® and Pathway to Excellence® Programs, and accredit providers of continuing nursing education. In addition, ANCC offers an array of informational and educational services and products to support its core credentialing programs.

ANCC is passionate about helping nurses on their journey to nursing excellence. VisitANCC's web site at

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA).


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