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Award-Winning Exemplars

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Putting Your Chapter’s Best Face Forward

Tips for Writing Your Exemplar

What is an exemplar?

An exemplar is a story, not a case study or a report. The purpose of the exemplar is to communicate the chapter’s contributions and accomplishments that exemplify AACN’s mission, vision, values and ethics of care based on the criteria for each category of Chapter awards. Give specific examples to reinforce your statements. Some examples of successful exemplars follow.

Write your exemplar so that others — a patient, a family member, someone from the general public or even the medical field, and most importantly the award reviewers — can grasp the nature of your work and its value to patients, your community, and society as a whole. Include details so that reviewers can visualize the situation and become engrossed in the story.

What should I include in my exemplar?

Remember the important elements — who, what, when, where, why, and how, and be sure to incorporate them into your story. Consider the criteria for your specific award category. Examples of successful exemplars are shown below.

Try to answer questions like these:

  • Who did you work with? Who was affected by the work that you achieved? Who will benefit from your achievements?
  • What was the situation and how did you intervene? What skills were necessary to achieve your outcomes? What were your goals and did you achieve them?
  • Where will the work you have accomplished lead the chapter … and your community?
  • When do you anticipate seeing positive results, if you haven’t already? When did you decide it was a worthwhile goal, and why?
  • Why did you select the goal? Why did your work succeed or fail?
  • How did your chapter decide on the goal? How did you determine the appropriate action?
  • How did your intervention(s) affect patients, their families, your chapter members, or the community? How have these accomplishments had an impact?

These are just some examples of questions to ask yourself as you write your exemplar. Be sure to include others in the writing process so that you have the benefit of multiple perspectives.

Try to paint a very clear picture as you tell your story. Give concrete illustrations of how you met your outcomes.

Who should write the exemplar?

Exemplars should be written by the chapter member, the nominator, or collaboratively by individuals who can attest to the validity of the contribution.

Refining your submission

Once you have written your exemplar, have several people (both clinical and nonclinical) review it. Then ask them to tell you in their own words what your exemplar is about. In this way you will be able to determine whether everything you wanted to convey is easily understood and that your story is clear.

Be sure to proofread your exemplar for punctuation and spelling. Remember, you’re nominating your chapter for an award, so you want your submission to be stellar!