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About Pathway


When going through the Pathway to Excellence® designation process it is important to note that there may have been changes to the version of the Pathway Application Manual you are working from.

Changes may be made to the Pathway Application Manual at any time, and applicants are required to review and comply with the requirements in the Pathway Application Manual and all Pathway Application Manual updates. Application manual updates supersede the hardcopy manual requirements.

The latest Pathway Application Manual updates can be found on the Pathway website under Apply and Required Forms and Resources or by clicking here.


Nurses operate on the front line of health care, dedicating their working lives to protecting, promoting, and improving health care for all. To do this to the best of their ability they need to operate in an environment that supports their own needs and promotes high standards.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) believes every nurse deserves to be working in such an environment. The Pathway to Excellence Program® – the premier designation for healthy work environments – recognizes health care organizations that demonstrate a commitment to establishing the foundation of a healthy workplace for staff.

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The ANCC Pathway to Excellence Framework depicts the six standards that are essential elements in developing a positive practice environment for nursing across a variety of healthcare settings including acute care and long-term care.

  • Shared Decision-Making creates opportunities for direct care nurses to network, collaborate, share ideas, and be involved in decision-making.
  • Leadership supports a shared governance environment by ensuring that leaders are accessible and that they facilitate collaborative decision-making. This standard also emphasizes leadership development, orientation, retention, accountability, and succession planning.
  • Safety prioritizes both patient and nurse safety, and fosters a respectful workplace culture free of incivility, bullying, and violence.
  • Quality is central to an organization's mission, vision, goals, and values, and is based on person- and family-centered care, evidence-based care, continuous improvement, and improving population health.
  • Well-Being promotes a workplace culture of recognition for the contribution of nurses and the healthcare provider team. Additionally, this standard provides staff with support and resources to promote their physical and mental health.
  • Professional Development ensures that nurses are competent to provide care and provides them with mentoring, support, and opportunities for lifelong learning.

Pathway Standards impact a range of factors that influence bottom-line results, such as employee turnover, job satisfaction and engagement, productivity and teamwork, nursing-sensitive quality indicators, errors and safety events, and patient satisfaction.

The opportunity to attain the Pathway designation – and potentially join the growing number of elite organizations that now hold both the Pathway and Magnet® designations simultaneously – is available to domestic or international health care organization where nurses are employed.

The Pathway to Excellence in Long Term Care Program is a separate program that recognizes the essential elements of an ideal nursing practice environment in long term care.

Pathway to Excellence - Business Case

An Introduction to Pathway to Excellence

Pathway Program Overview

The Pathway to Excellence Program® is the premier designation for healthy work environments and recognizes health care organizations and Long Term Care organizations for positive practice environments where nurses excel. Any size or health care setting where nurses care for patients may apply. Long term care organizations pursue a dedicated application and review process that addresses elements unique to that environment. Learn more about Pathway to Excellence in Long Term Care.

To qualify for designation, organizations must meet the six Pathway Standards essential to an ideal nursing practice environment. Applicants undergo a review process to fully document the integration of those standards in the organization's practices, policies, and culture.

Following a successful Pathway Standards document review, the applicant organization’s nurses complete an independent, and confidential Pathway Survey to validate whether the Pathway Standards have been enculturated. Pathway designation can only be achieved if an organization meets the survey thresholds. The Pathway Survey 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.


When Pathway Standards are encultured throughout an organization, the nurses, the patients, the organization itself, and the community it serves all benefit.

  • Improve nurse satisfaction
  • Retain choice nursing staff & leaders
  • Cultivate interprofessional Collaboration
  • Champion high-quality nursing practice
  • Support business growth


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

Pathway Designated Logo


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