In October 2019, the National League for Nursing unveiled a revised and updated version of its highly-respected Hallmarks of Excellence©
in nursing education. The nearly 30 Hallmarks of Excellence©
serve as characteristics or traits that define a level of outstanding performance or service that faculty can use to determine whether their programs are achieving that hallmark. This demonstrates to students that they are engaged in a high-quality program and institution.
Thanks to a national survey the National League for Nursing conducted of its membership and selected thought leaders in nursing education, the League has taken these Hallmarks of Excellence©
to the next level to meet the needs of 21st-century nursing education. Among its findings, the survey confirmed the continued relevance of the hallmarks for today’s academic and health care environments but discovered evolving new areas of interest.
These areas — simulation as a teaching pedagogy, civility in nursing education, and interprofessional education — have now been incorporated, along with specific descriptors and benchmarks for faculty and administration to assess their integration into programming and instruction. In addition, the hallmarks have been streamlined, reduced from 10 to eight, each with its own subsets and indicators of achievement:
- Engaged Students
- Diverse, Well-Prepared Faculty
- A Culture of Continuous Quality Improvement
- Innovative, Evidence-Based Curriculum
- Innovative, Evidence-Based Approaches to Facilitate and Evaluate Learning
- Resources to Support Program Goal Attainment
- Commitment to Pedagogical Scholarship
- Effective Institutional and Professional Leadership
The Hallmarks of Excellence©
is a proprietary NLN tool to help the nursing education community define a level of outstanding performance in education toward which they strive. Such expectations are relevant for all types of programs and institutions of higher learning. The NLN continues to take the lead in offering evidence-based best practices in curriculum and instruction to those responsible for preparing the next generation of nurses to provide patient-centered, culturally sensitive outstanding care to advance the health of the nation and our global community.
The survey that led to the updated edition of the hallmarks was distributed online in April 2019 to the entire NLN membership; fellows in the NLN Academy of Nursing Education; deans of schools of nursing designated NLN Centers of Excellence; and a Civility Action Group specially convened by the NLN to address the need to increase civility, inclusion, and tolerance in academic and clinical educational settings. A lack of civility and bullying on campus and in the workplace has been identified in recent years as a cause of burnout among nurses and a low rate of retention in the nursing workforce.
Competence: The application of knowledge and interpersonal,
decision making and psychomotor skills in the performance of a
task or implementation of a role.
Competency: A principle of professional practice that identifies
the expectations required for the safe and effective performance
of a task or implementation of a role.
Continuous Quality Improvement: A comprehensive, sustained, and
integrative approach to system assessment and evaluation that aims
toward continual improvement and renewal of the total system.
Creativity: A process that calls upon an individual's curiosity,
inquisitiveness and ability to generate new ideas and perspectives
that result in products and practices unique but useful.
Curriculum: The interaction among learners, teachers, and knowledge
-- occurring in an academic environment -- that is designed to accomplish
goals identified by the learners, the teachers, and the profession
the learners expect to enter. It is more than a collection of courses
or the sequencing of learning experiences, and it is more than an
outline of the content to be "covered" during an academic
Empowerment: Enabling experiences that foster autonomy, choice,
control, and responsibility and that encourage individuals to display
existing abilities, learn new abilities, and continually grow.
Ethical Behavior: A system of moral conduct based on one’s
personal beliefs, values, customs and character, as well as those
of one’s profession.
Experiential Cultural Learning: Purposefully-designed learning
experiences that help students gain greater understanding of, insight
to, and sensitivity regarding (a) the practices and beliefs of people
whose culture, history, and life experiences are different from
their own, and (b) the meaning that people give to their life experiences.
Evidence-based Nursing Care/Practice: The provision of nursing
care to individuals, groups and communities that evolves from the
systematic integration of research findings related to a particular
clinical problem. Intervention strategies are designed based on
the evidence garnered through research, questions are raised about
clinical practices that lead to new research endeavors, and the
effectiveness of interventions are systematically evaluated in an
effort to continually improve care.
Evidence-based Teaching Practice: Using systematically-developed
and appropriately-integrated research as the foundation for curriculum
design, selection of teaching/learning strategies, selection of
evaluation methods, advisement practices, and other elements of
the educational enterprise.
Excellence: “Striving to be the very best you can be in everything
you do--not because some … ‘authority figure’ [demands
it], but because you can’t imagine functioning in any other
way. It means setting high standards for yourself and the groups
in which you are involved, holding yourself to those standards despite
challenges or pressures to reduce or lower them, and not being satisfied
with anything less than the very best.” (Grossman & Valiga,
2000, p. 214).
Expertise: Having or displaying special skill, knowledge or mastery
of a particular subject, derived from extensive training or experience.
Global Perspective: Knowledge about and critical understanding
of global issues that enable an individual to (a) effectively address
those issues; (b) acquire values that give priority to ecological
sustainability, global interdependence, social justice for all the
world’s people, peace, human rights, and mutually-beneficial
processes of economic, social, and cultural development; (c) develop
the will and ability to act as mature, responsible citizens of the
world; and (d) develop a commitment to creating acceptable futures
for themselves, their communities, and the world. Such a perspective
is critical in light of the increasing connectivity and interdependence
of the world’s social, economic, educational, and other systems.
Innovation/Innovative Practices: The adoption of new ideas, change
in the core structure of systems and using unique approaches to
manage familiar situations. In education, it refers to dramatic
change in “the nature of schooling, learning, and teaching
and how curricular designs promote or inhibit learning, as well
as excitement about the profession of nursing, and the spirit of
inquiry necessary for the advancement of the discipline” (National
League for Nursing, 2003, p. 1).
Leadership: A “complex, multifaceted phenomenon [that involves
the elements of] vision, communication skills, change, stewardship,
and developing and renewing followers” (Grossman & Valiga,
2000, p. 11). Tasks assumed by the individual who chooses or agrees
to “make a difference in the lives of others and in the directions
of groups and organizations” (Grossman & Valiga, 2000,
p. 18) include envisioning goals, affirming values, motivating,
managing, achieving a workable unity, explaining, serving as a symbol,
representing the group, and renewing (Gardner, 1990).
Partner/Partnerships: An alliance between individuals or groups
in which all parties mutually develop goals, collaborate to achieve
those goals, and benefit from the alliance.
Pedagogical Research: Systematic inquiry into all aspects of the
teaching/learning process, including how students learn, effective
teaching strategies, effective assessment or evaluation methods,
curriculum design and implementation, program outcomes, learner
outcomes, environments that enhance learning, and other components
of the educational enterprise.
Preferred Future for Nursing: “What should happen or what
we would like to see evolve … Creat[ing] the future we want
and orchestrat[ing] events and situations to achieve the goals we
set for ourselves and to fulfill the roles we envision for ourselves” (Valiga,
1994, p. 86).
Reward: Recompense made to or received by an individual
for some service or merit. In the educational environment, traditional
faculty rewards are tenure, promotion, and salary increase. Other
types of rewards for faculty are those that derive from factors
that motivate individuals to pursue the faculty role, including
autonomy, belonging to a community of scholars, recognition, and
efficacy (i.e., having an impact on one's environment).
Science of Nursing Education: An integrated, systematically-developed
body of knowledge that “address[es] questions related to student
learning, new pedagogies, graduate competencies, program outcomes,
innovative clinical teaching models, effective student advisement
strategies, recruitment and retention strategies, and other elements
of quality nursing education” (Tanner, 2003, p. 3).
Socialization to the Role: A process whereby an individual learns
about the intricacies of a new role she/he will assume. Those "intricacies" involve
an historical perspective on the role, legal parameters related
to the role, common issues regarding role implementation and projections
about anticipated changes in the role, as well as the knowledge,
skills and values required to successfully implement the role. Such
socialization occurs through formal education, mentoring, on-the-job
experiences and other means, and it occurs whenever an individual
prepares to move into a new role (e.g., RN, nurse manager, faculty
member, advanced clinician, researcher, etc.).
Spirit of Inquiry: A “yen to discover” (Van Bree Sneed,
1990, p. 36). “Asking questions to satisfy one’s curiosity” (p.
Structured Preparation for the Faculty Role: “The nurse educator
role requires specialized preparation… There is a core of
knowledge and skills that is essential if one is to be effective
and achieve excellence in the role. That core of knowledge and skills
entails the ability to facilitate learning, advance the total development
and professional socialization of the learner, design appropriate
learning experiences, and evaluate learning outcomes. … It
is critical that all nurse educators know about teaching, learning
and evaluation; and nurse educators who practice in academic settings
also must have knowledge and skill in curriculum development, assessment
of program outcomes, and being an effective member of an academic
community, among other things. … Competence as an educator
can be established, recognized, and expanded through master’s
and/or doctoral education, post-master’s certificate programs,
continuing professional development, mentoring activities, and professional
certification as a faculty member.” (National League for Nursing,
Student Support Services: Services that promote the comprehensive
development of the student and help strengthen learning outcomes
by reinforcing and extending the educational institution’s
influence beyond the classroom. Such services include but are not
limited to admissions, financial aid, registration, orientation,
advisement, tutoring, counseling, discipline, health, housing, placement,
student organizations and activities, cultural programming, childcare,
security, and athletics.
Technology: The use of science and the application of scientific
principles to any situation, often involving the use of sophisticated
equipment and computers.
Traditional Approaches to Nursing Education: Teacher-directed,
highly structured approaches that rely heavily on the delivery
of content through lecture, the evaluation of learning through
multiple-choice examinations, highly structures and relatively
inflexible curriculum designs, and strict adherence to policies.
The focus is on cognitive gain, “covering” content,
a simple-to-complex approach, problem-solving and efficiency.
Values Development: The evolution of personal principles, character,
and customs that provide the framework for making decisions about
one’s daily actions. Values are the product of one’s
life experiences, give meaning and direction to life, and are influenced
by family, friends, religion, culture, environment, education and
Wonderment: “Awe, astonishment or surprise; something producing
wonder; puzzlement or curiosity” (Webster’s II New College
Dictionary, 1995, p.781 ).
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