An Update for the Beacon Award Journey

Added to Collection

Beginning in 2024, the Beacon Award for Excellence recognition program will make the Journey to Excellence more accessible to units and create more opportunities for recognition.

AACN is modifying the program in order to continue recognizing top-performing units and share best practices, while implementing a streamlined application process that provides flexibility to meet units where they are.

This Beacon journey integrates a qualitative and quantitative approach to excellence. Unit exemplars offer an opportunity to showcase your unit’s innovation and achievements while benchmarking data and measuring continuous improvement so that units can monitor progress on their own excellence journey while also seeing how they compare to similar units.

Program Modules

There are several areas that have been identified by AACN and other industry leaders as having the greatest impact on nursing excellence where unit performance should be measured. For the Beacon Award Program, individual components have been grouped together as modules:

  • Patient Outcomes
  • Work Environment
  • Nursing Workforce

Each unit can decide which modules they complete.

Within each module, the unit will need to provide responses, based upon performance in the previous calendar year for:

  • Quantitative criteria questions
  • Short qualitative responses
  • Process measures
  • Healthy Work Environment Assessment Tool (HWEAT) scores

The feedback the unit receives from AACN will provide units with a quantifiable comparison of performance against other units and suggestions to improve areas of opportunity which will support the unit’s continuous improvement efforts.

IMPORTANT: If you are interested in applying for the Beacon Award in 2024, you will need to complete a work environment assessment for your unit by the end of 2023 using the new Healthy Work Environment Assessment Tool (HWEAT 2.0). The new assessment tool is expected to launch in late June, so please check back here for availability.

Annual Application Cycle

The design of the Beacon Award program requires certain activities to be completed and/or submitted at specific times, as the award will be on an annual cycle. Applicants must meet posted deadlines. Additional details about the updated Beacon program will be provided in September 2023.

In addition to a feedback report, all program participants are eligible for multiple recognition opportunities. Units that complete all three modules during the application period may receive a one-year Beacon Award designation, which includes access to AACN promotional materials and recognition.

For questions regarding the Beacon Award for Excellence, please email