Beacon Award for Excellence Application Process

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) created the Beacon Award for Excellence (Beacon Award) to recognize individual units that distinguish themselves by improving every facet of patient care. You are taking an important first step on this journey by pursuing a Beacon Award.

To successfully complete the Beacon Award application, please do the following:

  1. Read the entire handbook.
  2. Refer to the scoring guidelines.
  3. Understand key terms.
  4. Start the Unit Profile.
  5. Complete the Beacon Award Audit Tool.

To submit a completed Beacon Award application you must do the following:

Part I — Writing Your Application

Whether you are applying for designation or redesignation the application and submission process is the same. Once you are prepared to write your application you will use the Beacon Award Application Template to write your Beacon Award Application.

Please be sure to follow these instructions:

  • For your application submission you will need to download and save the Beacon Award Application Template.
    • You will enter your responses in the appropriate "Response" box under each criteria question.
    • Once completed you will upload your saved document during the “Online Submission Process.”
  • Pay special attention to font size and length restrictions:
    • Minimum font for the application is size 10.
      • The template is formatted for this font size.
    • Including the pages of the application template, the maximum length is 50 pages.
      • If the application exceeds 50 pages, only the first 50 pages will be reviewed.
  • Ensure all graphics, particularly in the Outcome Measurement section, are appropriately labeled.
  • Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations.
    • They can have more than one meaning, which detracts from an application's clarity.
    • If it is essential to use an abbreviation or acronym, it must be spelled out the first time it is used.
  • Do not include patient- or employee-specific information.
    • If confidential information is included in the application, all identifying details must be removed.

Part II — Online Submission Process

Once you have written your application (part I), begin the online submission process (part II) and log in with your member or customer ID number. Once you have signed in, you will be taken to step one of seven in the online submission process.

Caution: The online submission process must be completed in one session from start to finish. Do not start the online submission process until you have the demographic information listed below* and your Beacon Award application is complete. The online submission process should take approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

There are seven steps in the online submission process:

  1. Enter your hospital information.
  2. Enter unit name and address.
  3. Enter facility and unit information.*
  4. Enter primary and secondary contact information.
  5. Upload your complete application.
  6. Submit application.
  7. Submit payment.

*During the online submission process, you will be asked for the following data about your hospital and unit. We collect this information to better understand the environment of applicants and make comparisons between groups. Be sure to obtain the information specified below before you start the online submission.

  • Unit type.
  • Type of facility.
  • Number of beds in unit.
  • Number of operating beds in institution.
  • Does your hospital currently have Magnet Hospital designation?
  • Has your hospital received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award?
  • Is your hospital a participant in the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI)?
  • Number of RN staff in unit (individuals not FTEs).
  • How many nurses in your unit are currently certified in specialty practice by AACN, ANCC or another national nursing organization? (Please do not include American Heart Association competencies, such as CPR, ACLS or PALS, and do not include internal hospital certifications.)
  • Unit and hospital name for promotional/recognition purposes, if different than original unit and hospital name.

Online Submission Policies

  • The online submission process is final.
    • Once the application is submitted, we do not accept changes, additions or deletions.
  • You may pay the $1,500 Beacon Award application fee online via credit card.
    • Once the credit card is authorized, a receipt will be emailed to you.
  • If you choose to pay with a check, you will be prompted to print your invoice.
    • Mail the invoice and check to AACN.
    • Applications are not processed until payment is received.

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