When we learned about the AACN Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence, we were struck by how it seemed to define what we believed our level 1, surgical-trauma intensive care unit (ICU) at Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Fla, was about.

As we reviewed the award criteria online (www.aacn.org), our pride and excitement began to build. This award would accomplish exactly what we wanted: to celebrate our greatness and acknowledge the incredible nurses in our unit who go above and beyond. With a little fine-tuning, we believed our unit was definitely Beacon qualified.

Rallying around a theme of “Beacon Bound ICU 1&2,” we began our journey. We developed a brief handout describing the Beacon Award, and staff nurses who were not only active in the unit but also involved with the hospital’s clinical ladder were invited to lead each of the 6 award criteria categories—recruitment and retention; education/training and...

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