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About Pathway

The 2020 Pathway to Excellence & Pathway to Excellence in Long-Term Care Application Manual is now available for purchase. This is a revision of both the 2016 Pathway to Excellence and 2017 Pathway to Excellence in Long-Term Care Application manuals. The requirements for both designations are included in this one manual. There are some new concepts, however, much of the 2020 manual remains similar to the current versions. Organizations applying or re-applying for either designation are required to write to the new elements of performance in the 2020 manual beginning with the February 1, 2021 cycle.

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.

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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