In 2018, 226 Hospital Units Receive Beacon Awards

Apr 18, 2019

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Units at 161 hospitals receive Beacon Awards for Excellence in 2018 for demonstrating evidence-based practice to improve patient, family outcomes

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – April 18, 2019 –The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recognizes a record 226 units from 161 hospitals that earned the Beacon Award for Excellence between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2018. (View recipient list.)

The Beacon Award for Excellence lauds hospital units that employ evidence-based practice to improve patient and family outcomes. The award provides gold, silver and bronze levels of recognition to hospital units that exemplify excellence in professional practice, and patient care and outcomes. Recognition is for a three-year term.

AACN President Lisa Riggs, MSN, APRN-BC, CCRN-K, praises the exemplary efforts of the unit caregivers who achieved the Beacon Award for Excellence. She is system director regulatory readiness at Saint Luke's Health System, Kansas City, Missouri.

“AACN’s most recent survey of critical care nurses found that nurses who work in Beacon units (and in units in the process of obtaining Beacon recognition) reported healthier work environments, were more satisfied in their current positions, and were less likely to plan to leave the organization,” Riggs said. “The Beacon Award program continues to grow, demonstrating the commitment of caregivers and their hospitals to work together to achieve healthy work environments that support excellent care of patients and their families.”

Beacon-designated units meet criteria in five categories, all of which are consistent with other national awards, including Magnet® recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Forum’s Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality awards. Units that receive the Beacon Award demonstrate practices that align with AACN’s Healthy Work Environment standards.

Recipients of a gold-level Beacon Award demonstrate staff-driven excellence in sustained unit performance and improved patient outcomes that exceed national benchmarks. Silver-level recipients demonstrate continual learning and effective systems to achieve optimal patient care. Bronze-level awardees demonstrate success in developing, deploying and integrating unit-based performance criteria for optimal outcomes.

In 2018, the program recognized more units at more hospitals than any prior year, and awarded the highest number of gold-level Beacon awards since it was established in 2003.

In all, 50 units received gold-level Beacon awards, the award’s highest distinction. Cleveland Clinic and Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor each had two units receive gold-level awards.

A total of 45 hospitals had multiple units honored with an award in 2018, demonstrating excellence in caring for high-acuity and critically ill patients and their families. Six units at VCU Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, received Beacon awards in 2018, bringing the total of its recognized units to 13.

Texas had 23 hospital units recognized in 2018, followed by California with 21 units and New York with 20 units. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, hospitals affiliated with UNC Medical Center had a total of 10 units receive Beacon awards during the year.

AACN honors units that earn the Beacon Award for Excellence during the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI), the world’s largest educational conference and trade show for nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients and their families. The next NTI takes place in Orlando, May 20-23 (with preconferences May 19).

Learn more about the Beacon Award for Excellence, and read about one unit’s Beacon journey in the Your Stories section of the AACN website.

The Beacon Award for Excellence: Established in 2003, AACN’s award recognizes top hospital units that meet standards of excellence in recruitment and retention; education, training and mentoring; research and evidence-based practice; patient outcomes; leadership and organizational ethics; and creation of a healthy work environment. Award criteria — which measure systems, outcomes and environments against evidence-based national criteria for excellence — provide a mechanism to initiate patient safety efforts. To learn more about the award, visit or call 800-899-2226.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 with 400 members, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is now the world’s largest specialty nursing organization. In 2019, AACN celebrates 50 years of acute and critical care nursing excellence, serving more than 120,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States. The organization remains committed to its vision of creating a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. During its 50th anniversary year, AACN continues to salute and celebrate all that nurses have accomplished over the last half century, while honoring their past, present and future impact on the evolution of high-acuity and critical care nursing.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4109; 949-362-2000;;;