National League of NursingNational League of Nursing

The Voice of Nursing Education

Excellence Model

As they fulfill various roles - providing high quality care to individuals, families, and communities; teaching effectively; influencing public policy; conducting research; providing leadership in the delivery of nursing services; or creating a preferred future for the profession itself - nurses of today and tomorrow need to:

  • understand the principles that underlie their practice
  • know how to find, manage, and use information
  • be comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty
  • be leaders and agents for change
  • think critically and communicate effectively
  • function effectively in the face of conflict
  • manage constant change, including technological developments

Preparing nurses of this caliber calls for educational programs and teaching of the highest quality. The Excellence in Nursing Education Model © (pdf) developed by the National League for Nursing, depicts eight core elements required to achieve and sustain this excellence as well as many of the components relevant to each:  

  • Clear Program Standards and Hallmarks that Raise Expectations
  • Well-prepared Faculty
  • Qualified Students
  • Well-prepared Educational Administrators
  • Evidence-based Programs and Teaching/Evaluation Methods
  • Quality and Adequate Resources
  • Student-centered, Interactive, and Innovative Programs and Curricula
  • Recognition of Expertise

The model explicates many of the components relevant to each major element, but it is not intended to be exhaustive or all-inclusive. For example:

Having a well-prepared faculty means a balance of individuals whose expertise lies in different areas - clinical practice, research, and education. A faculty composed largely of researchers with few academic leaders will not have the leadership needed to guide curriculum innovation, contribute to the work of the academy, engage in evidence-based teaching practices, transform nursing education, and build the science of nursing education. A school's faculty should reflect a balance of expert clinicians who can teach, expert researchers and grant writers who can teach, and expert teachers who are pedagogical scholars.

Student-centered, interactive, and innovative programs and curricula should be designed to promote leadership in students, develop students' thinking skills, reflect new models of learning and practice, effectively integrate technology, promote a lifelong career commitment in students, include intra- and interdisciplinary learning experiences, and prepare students for the roles they will assume.  

Each major element's extension facilitates understanding of the complexity of the educational enterprise and stimulates thinking among faculty about the concepts of excellence and achieving excellence in nursing education. The model has relevance for all types of nursing education programs - practical nurse, associate degree, diploma, baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral.

Faculty members and graduate student in teacher preparation programs will have unique perspectives on the meaning of the elements in the context of their academic setting and may identify additional factors that define them.

Permission for non-commercial use of the Excellence in Nursing Education Model © (pdf)  is granted free of charge.  Individuals do not need to contact the NLN for specific permission for non-commercial use (including for academic presentation/lecture, thesis or dissertation, or DNP project).  In granting permission for non-commercial use, it is understood that the following caveats will be respected:

1. It is the sole responsibility of the user to determine whether the NLN model is appropriate to the intended use by the individual or school of nursing.

2. When published or printed, using the NLN model must be properly cited [National League for Nursing. (2006). Excellence in nursing education model. New York: National League for Nursing]. If the content was modified in any way, this must also be clearly indicated in the text, footnotes and endnotes of all materials where use of the model is published or printed. 

Permission for commercial use
 of the model must be obtained from the NLN. Commercial use includes publishing in journals, books, or inclusion in any product that is sold. Please submit a written request to  In most instances, requests for permission are reviewed within 4 weeks of their receipt.