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Pathway Program Overview

The Pathway to Excellence Program® recognizes health care organizations and long term care institutions for positive practice environments where nurses excel. Any size or type of health care group where nurses care for patients may apply. Long term care institutions pursue a dedicated application and review process that addresses standards unique to that environment. Learn more about Pathway to Excellence in Long Term Care.

To qualify, organizations meet 12 practice standards essential to an ideal nursing practice environment. Applicants conduct a review process to fully document the integration of those standards in the organization's practices, policies and culture. Pathway designation can only be achieved if an organization's nurses validate the data and other evidence submitted, via an independent, confidential survey. This critical element exemplifies the theme of empowering and giving nurses a voice.

Nurses trust that Pathway-designated organizations respect nursing contributions, support professional development and nurture optimal practice environments. Communities want satisfied nurses because they are better equipped to deliver higher quality care.

Organizations may hold Pathway and Magnet designations simultaneously.

Take the Organizational Self Assessment!


  • Improve nurse satisfaction
  • Retain choice nursing staff & leaders
  • Cultivate inter-professional teamwork
  • Champion high quality nursing practice
  • Support business growth

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National Recognition
Pathway-designated organizations include those recognized by:

  • Modern Healthcare Great Places to Work in Healthcare
  • US News & World Report Best Hospitals

Application and Review Process
The Pathway to Excellence designation is granted for 3 years and may be renewed. An organization earns or renews the Pathway to Excellence designation via a thorough review process:

  1. Nurses at all levels conduct a self-assessment and fully document how the 12 Pathway Practice Standards are active in its practices, policies and culture. ANCC provides tools to guide applicant organizations.
  2. Organizations apply and submit supporting evidence with organization demographics.
  3. All documentation is reviewed by at least 3 ANCC nursing experts.
  4. After successful document review, nurses in the organization confirm the integration of Pathway Practice Standards via a confidential online survey conducted by ANCC.
  5. The Commission on Pathway to Excellence makes the official designation after a final review and decision.

Learn More About the Pathway Standards & Application

Credential Marks
Organizations that achieve Pathway to Excellence designation gain the advantage of using an official logo (shown below) in their marketing and promotion. The Pathway to Excellence® and Pathway to Excellence in Long Term Care® certification marks are legally trademarked symbols and must be used in accordance with Pathway to Excellence Toolkit & Logo Guidelines