Becoming a Volunteer Reviewer for the Beacon Award for Excellence

Added to Collection

Now more than ever, nurses must work together with excellence and innovation every day to overcome challenges in their units. The AACN Beacon Award for Excellence provides the opportunity to recognize their efforts and achievements.The award is unit-based and evaluates the processes and outcomes of units that submit applications. Volunteer Beacon reviewers, who are an essential part of this process, review numerous applications from units across the country.

Why does the program have volunteer reviewers?

Volunteers with a wide range of roles, leadership, experiences and locations bring diversity and unique perspectives to the program. Survey data from awarded units in 2019 also indicates that units appreciate objective feedback from their peers in the nursing community.

Who can be a Beacon reviewer?

Nurses with strong clinical and/or leadership experience and strong writing skills make great reviewers. Experience with the Beacon Award or other nursing excellence recognition programs will be helpful in stepping into a reviewer role.

What do reviewers do?

Reviewers read Beacon applications, then identify and document strengths and opportunities for improvement in the unit. A typical application is 50 pages of answers to questions in the Beacon Handbook. Current reviewers report that a review can take eight to 12 hours to complete. All training and the reviews themselves are completed remotely with support from the Beacon Award Program staff.

How do you become a reviewer?

Potential reviewers apply through an online process. When training is planned, AACN’s Volunteer Department sends an invitation to apply. To receive an invitation, create an AACN account or become a member, then update your Volunteer Profile from your account dashboard screen by checking “Beacon.” The invitation to apply contains critical information on training dates, expectations and contact information for further questions. Training typically occurs twice a year.

What does the training involve?

Once the reviewers are chosen, training is a combination of independent and staff-guided learning. Prework before video training calls includes reading a mock application and understanding how the Beacon program and AACN’s Healthy Work Environment Standards are connected. On the scheduled calls, the focus is on evaluating a mock application and writing feedback in real time. Once training is complete, reviewers have continuing support and guidance from the Beacon team to complete reviews on their own. Conflicts of interest and confidentiality expectations are also discussed.

Why should you become a reviewer?

The Beacon Award for Excellence could not award over 200 units each year without the dedication of more than 100 current volunteers. Not only are you recognizing and rewarding units for the tremendous work they do, but you are guiding them to the next level of achievement on their journey to excellence. Think of it as precepting on a whole new level. You will also learn about innovative and best practices from across the United States and internationally. Many reviewers state that giving back to the profession fuels their passion for nursing; others report that their own skills in giving verbal and written feedback have improved based on what they learned during their training. Start your own journey as a Beacon reviewer today.