Circle of Excellence information

AACN believes acute and critical care nurses deserve recognition for all that they do every day for patients, families and our profession. That's why we honor and support our members through programs such as the Circle of Excellence.

AACN's awards program is highly regarded for its responsiveness to current trends in the nursing profession and in the environments where nurses work. In order to maintain the high-caliber program aligned with AACN's mission and vision, the program focuses on excellence and innovation through standardized award criteria for all Circle of Excellence awards.

Up to 25 individuals who exemplify excellence in the care of acutely and critically ill patients and their families will be chosen annually for a Circle of Excellence award. Recipients will become part of the Circle of Excellence Society.

Nominees for a Circle of Excellence Award must hold active AACN membership and be nominated by a colleague, who must also hold active AACN membership. Self-nominations will not be accepted.

The nurse-to-nurse nomination process provides acute and critical care nurses an opportunity to participate in meaningful recognition of their peers and colleagues by nominating them for this prestigious national honor. The nominator and two references must attest to each nominee’s achievements in exemplifying the award criteria.

Nominations for the Circle of Excellence awards open annually in April, and must be received by August 1 of each year.

Circle of Excellence Criteria

  • Relentlessly promotes patient-driven excellence
  • Models skilled communication, true collaboration, effective decision-making and meaningful recognition
  • Transforms thinking, structures and processes to address challenges and remove barriers to advance patient-driven excellence
  • Furthers AACN's mission and key initiatives at influential forums
  • Enriches own and other organizations by influencing and mentoring others in achieving excellence
  • Achieves visible results that validate the impact of individual leadership contribution to organizational excellence

Nomination and Selection Process

Nominees for a Circle of Excellence award must be nominated by a colleague. Self-nominations will not be accepted.

Nominations must be received by August 1 of each year. 

The nominator and two references must attest to each nominee’s achievements in exemplifying the award criteria.

Please refer to the Circle of Excellence general information, guidelines and restrictions, nomination form and evaluation criteria.

Notifications of selection are expected by December 31.

Circle of Excellence Society

The Circle of Excellence Society will permanently connect award recipients to one another and AACN. The Society provides a rich network of experts who will continually generate innovation and excellence. Society members will be instrumental in shaping its future activities and will participate in selecting future award recipients.

Individuals who previously received a Circle of Excellence award before 2009 became the inaugural members of the Society. Thereafter, annual Circle of Excellence award recipients become ongoing members of the Society.

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