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What is the purpose of the Pathway to Excellence nurse survey?

The nurse survey is an integral part of the appraisal process for organizations applying for American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Pathway to Excellence designation. The survey invites nurses working at all levels of the organization to share their perceptions of the workplace environment. Responses from the survey play a key part in the decision on whether to award Pathway accreditation. Pathway designation can only be achieved if nursing staff validate that their organization meets the Pathway Standards.

What kinds of questions about the workplace environment does the Pathway survey ask?

The survey asks questions about the presence of essential elements of a positive work environment as defined by 2020 Pathway to Excellence criteria. The Pathway survey covers the following topics:

  • Culture of interprofessional decision-making
  • Nurses/midwives influence practice through shared decision-making
  • Process for nurses to address ethical concerns
  • Interprofessional discussions about selecting new technology
  • Nurse input into hiring process of new staff
  • Nurse managers accommodate nurse participation in shared governance committees
  • CNO accessible to nurses
  • Nurse managers accessible to nurses
  • Nurse managers include nurses in cost management discussions
  • Leadership supports nurses during organizational change
  • Process in place to involve nurses in addressing patient-related safety events
  • Workplace culture free from incivility, bullying, and violence among healthcare team
  • Safeguard nurses from verbal or physical abuse from patients and families
  • Nurse input on daily staffing decisions related to patient conditions, volume, or availability of qualified staff
  • Interprofessional decision-making to transition patients from one level of care to another
  • Culture of person and family-centered care
  • Education on respectful communication among employees
  • Education on the application of evidence-based practice
  • Interprofessional collaboration to meet quality initiatives
  • Communication about performance in quality measures
  • Nurse input on staff well-being initiatives
  • Opportunities to create work schedules that support nurse well-being
  • Culture of staff recognition
  • Support well-being of staff who experience adverse work-related situations
  • Strategies in place to address physical fatigue
  • Prepare nurses to competently provide care if assigned outside their primary area
  • Nurse input into selection of educational offerings
  • Support nurse participation in professional development activities

How many minutes will it take to finish the survey?

It typically takes 15 minutes to finish the survey.

Where can I take the survey?

You may take the survey using a digital device that has Internet access.

Why does the survey ask for the last four digits of my nursing license number as a tracking number? (Midwives and nurses outside the United States, may be instructed to use a different type of 4 digit number).

With online survey administrations, sometimes a respondent can accidentally submit two sets of survey answers. For quality assurance, it is important to eliminate accidental duplicate responses. The four-digit number provides the Pathway office a method for identifying and eliminating duplicate survey submissions without being able to connect them to an individual.

If I don't want to provide the last four digits of my license, can I put in a random number?

No. There is an increased potential for people to enter the same number.

How is my confidentiality protected if I participate in the survey?

The answers you provide in the Pathway survey are completely confidential. Your survey responses are submitted to Pathway to Excellence through a secure website, and only authorized Pathway staff will have access to those responses. A combined score is shared with the organization, no one at your organization has access to your individual responses.

How are the results reported to my organization?

Your responses will be combined with the responses of all the other respondents in your organization to produce a summary report. The report your healthcare organization receives, will include only the total number of respondents who participated in the survey and the aggregate response for the survey items about the workplace environment.

How do I know I have completed the survey?

You have finished and submitted the survey only when you reach the following message: “Congratulations! You have successfully completed the nurse survey. You may now close the screen. Thank you for your participation.” If you do not reach this screen, you have not submitted the survey and your results have not been collected.

What if I have a concern about how this survey is being conducted?

For concerns about how this survey is being conducted at your organization, please notify the Pathway Office at 301.628.5222 or

Can I go backward in the survey to change my answers if I want to?

Yes, you can click the “back” button from any screen to return to previous screens.

If I cannot finish the survey in one sitting, can I return to finish it at another time?

Yes, you can click the “Save” button at the bottom of any screen, and a URL will appear in the address bar at the top of the screen. Copy and email this URL to yourself. The URL will bring you back to the question in the survey you last answered.

Who is eligible to take the survey?

All eligible nurses and non-nurse midwives must be invited by the CNO to participate in the Pathway Survey. This includes direct care, non-direct care, full-time, part-time, per diem or float pool staff. Any nurse (RN, LPN, APRN) or non-nurse midwives in the organization, whose nursing practice is under the CNO's oversight is eligible to take the survey, regardless of the nurse or non-nurse midwives’ reporting relationships, except as noted for agency/contract staff.
Questions? Contact the Pathway office

How many respondents must take the survey for my organization to meet the required survey participation rate?

A minimum of 60% of all eligible nurses and non-nurse midwives must take and submit the survey. The Pathway office will provide the organization a progress report on participation rate. Individual respondent participation is voluntary.

What difference does it make whether I answer the survey or not?

Taking the survey is your opportunity to validate the existence of the essential elements of a positive workplace environment at your organization. The results of the Pathway survey are a critical and integral part of the Pathway to Excellence designation. Respondents provide their perception of their workplace environment.

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