Changes Coming in 2024

AACN is modifying the Beacon Award program in order to provide units with more data to measure success, while also continuing to recognize top-performing units. Please note the following important updates:

  • If you are currently applying for the Beacon Award in 2023, the last day to submit an application for the current version of the program is Aug. 31, 2023. There are no changes being made to the evaluation or award processes for those units that submit by Aug. 31, 2023. If selected for the award, the unit will receive a three-year Bronze, Silver or Gold Beacon designation.
  • If you are interested in applying for the Beacon Award in 2024, you will need to complete the new Healthy Work Environment Assessment Tool (HWEAT 2.0) by the end of 2023. The new assessment tool is expected to launch in late June, so please check back here for availability.

​More Details

Who Can Apply for a Beacon Award?

  • Any unit where patients receive their principal nursing care after hospital admission is eligible.
  • A unit must meet defined criteria in the following categories: Leadership Structures and Systems; Appropriate Staffing and Staff Engagement; Effective Communication, Knowledge Management and Learning Development; Evidence-Based Practice and Processes; and Outcome Measurements.
  • Units must apply individually. If a hospital has multiple units seeking designation, each unit must submit an application.
  • AACN membership is not required for a unit to apply.

Why Strive for a Beacon Award?

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Influence & Recognition
Beacon awardees set the standard for excellence in patient care environments by collecting and using evidence-based information to improve patient outcomes, patient and staff satisfaction, and credibility with consumers.
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Recruitment & Retention

A Beacon Award signifies a positive and supportive work environment with greater collaboration between colleagues and leaders, higher morale and lower turnover. The process can be driven by the nursing staff; nurturing empowerment and leadership.

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Tools to Measure Progress
Following a multilevel peer-reviewed evaluation, your unit will receive a comprehensive feedback report, which includes strengths and opportunities for improvement, to chart the excellence journey over time.

Application Process

  • 1Read the entire handbook. Be sure to understand key terms and review the scoring guidelines. The Beacon Award audit tool, mock application and other resources can prepare you to begin your journey.

  • 2Prepare your application using the Beacon Award application following AACN’s application writing guidelines (Part I).

  • 3Once you have written your application (Part I), begin the online submission process (Part II). You do not need to be a member to apply.

Ready to get started?
Read more on writing and submitting your application.

Beacon Resources and Tools

To help your unit develop a strong application, review the resources and tools for additional guidance and instructions.

Beacon Volunteer Reviewers

Do you have clinical and leadership experience with strong writing skills? If so, become a Beacon application reviewer and help recognize excellence in nursing and innovation.

Beacon Posters

Are you interested in learning how Beacon designated units embrace the journey to excellence? Beacon posters share how units have improved processes and achieved improved outcomes.