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Advancing Clinical Excellence Professional Practice Program (ACE)

Advance Clinical Excellence

ACE defines nursing proficiency and empowers nurses to further their education and develop their professional skill sets. The official logo represents MWHC’s investment in its nurses’ professional development and the quality of patient care. The navy blue is representative of nursing within our health system. MWHC supports their nurses’ growth and wants to empower them to become an “ace” in their field.

MWHC Professional Practice Standards for Nursing

Having a professional practice model is essential to strengthening nursing professionalism and enhancement of job satisfaction. Linked to high-quality patient outcomes are structures to support nurse empowerment in controlling their practice. The Advancing Clinical Excellence (ACE) nurse-led program promotes a highly educated workforce and drives succession planning. The foundation for ACE was adapted from Patricia Benner’s novice to expert framework for the stages of clinical competence and is based on the principles of the Magnet Recognition Program.

Regardless of the service, specialty, or practice location, every clinical nurse who practices at the bedside across Mary Washington Healthcare (MWHC) is an ACE member. This program is not based on a point system, nor does it include advance practice nurses or those holding specialty roles (such as case manager, clinical nurse specialist, or educator). Every clinical registered nurse (RN) has a job description, job code, and classification as a Level 1 Novice, Level 2 Competent, Level 3 Advanced, Proficient, or Level 4 Expert. The ACE program provides a framework for performance evaluation based on the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) Standards of Clinical Nurse Practice, and supports clinical nurse career goal development through advancement. Four categories of practice exist, with titles aligned to match the Magnet Model components: 1) exemplary professional practice, 2) transformational leadership, 3) structural empowerment, 4) new knowledge, innovations, and improvements.

Currently, the ACE program is governed by a board of 22 clinical nurses who represent all areas of the hospital. The Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Magnet Program Director, and Human Resources representatives are non-voting members. There are three Nursing Executive Committee (NEC) Liaisons that aid the Chair of the Board. Being a member of this Board carries a great deal of responsibility for those selected will serve as ambassadors to our community and adhere to the highest level of ethical standards. Board members are appointed by the CNO and to serve the health system is viewed as a privilege.

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