The Latest ANCC Pathway to Excellence® Standards
HealthJune 05, 2018

The latest ANCC Pathway to Excellence® standards

To keep current, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) updates its Pathway to Excellence® Program standards every 4 years. Changes in evidence, policy, and culture are incorporated into the existing framework, allowing it to stay fresh for facilities seeking ways to promote excellence in today’s dynamic nursing practice environment.

For many, a Pathway to Excellence® designation is a symbol of an organization’s commitment to empowering nurses. Along the same lines, keeping Pathway to Excellence® standards relevant reflects ANCC’s commitment to the program.

Standard slimdown

In the latest update, published in 2016, the previous 12 Pathway to Excellence Standards shrank in size to a mere 6:

  1. Shared decision-making,
  2. Leadership,
  3. Safety,
  4. Quality,
  5. Well-being, and
  6. Professional development.

This slimdown of standards wasn’t caused by a hasty dropping of measures no longer considered essential to a positive practice environment. Rather, think of it as streamlined approach — broadened standard categories that encompass other standards that at one time stood alone.

For example, the “elements of work environment safety” and “systems for reporting safety concerns” standards now reside together within the new “safety” standard, explained Pathway experts from the ANCC in a Nurse Leader article. Likewise, new nurse orientation, continuing education, and growth opportunity standards have been shuffled to cozily coexist under the “professional development” standard.

The aim of the revised standards was to combine overlapping concepts and eliminate redundancies. Simplification can provide a more accurate overall picture of the key aspects of an empowering workplace.

New concepts

The 2016 update to the practice standards also introduces new concepts.

Inspired by Institute of Medicine and World Health Organization views, interprofessional collaboration is a recurring theme throughout the standards.

“Interprofessional collaboration,” the ANCC experts write, “does not only strengthen health care structures but also improves organizational outcomes by ensuring the highest quality of care through shared partnerships between the health care team members, patients, families, and their communities.”

In a nod to the Healthy People 2020 initiative to better the health of all groups, the “well-being” standard takes nurses beyond the walls of the workplace to meet the health needs of the community as well as to determine the health and well-being needs of themselves as individuals.

A new nurse’s transition into practice is another new concept introduced in the “professional development” standard. It’s inclusion stems from studies that support established practice transition programs and nursing residencies.

“A study of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing's Transition to Practice Model found evidence of better safety and quality outcomes in hospitals with established programs,” the article states. “New nurses in the established transition programs were reported to have fewer errors, fewer negative safety practices, higher overall competence, less stress, and more job satisfaction. They were also less likely to leave their positions.”

Similarly, a study evaluating the decade-long effect of a nurse residency program showed increased competence, higher self-confidence, and lower turnover among program participants.

Other new concepts embedded in the standards relate to ethics, cost-management, change management, and leadership development and succession planning. Staff safety and staff alignment with the organization’s mission, vision, and goals were also integrated into the newest standard set.

A deeper dive

Lippincott® Solutions recently held a free webinar on the current ANCC Pathway to Excellence® standards which was presented by renowned nurse leader, Dr. Jeff Doucette, VP of Pathway to Excellence and the Magnet Recognition Program at ANCC.

In addition to explaining the latest changes to the Pathway practice standards, Dr. Doucette provided an informative overview of the Pathway program including the many benefits to hospitals that result from a healthy, positive practice environment.

The webinar recording is available for viewing HERE:

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