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Nursing Education National League for Nursing - Excellence Initiatives

The purpose of the Student Excellence Paper Competition is to provide students enrolled in NLN Center of Excellence (COE) schools with the opportunity to reflect on and share their thinking about excellence in nursing education, what fosters excellence, and what it means to them to be part of a COE school

Selection Process
All COE schools will be asked to (a) invite their students to write a paper about excellence in nursing education, what they think fosters excellence, and what it means to them to be part of a COE school, (b) select the one paper they think best illustrates these points, and (c) submit that single paper to the NLN.  

Each school decides the manner in which it manages the invitation and selection processes. For example, one school may want to invite only selected students to submit a paper, while another one may wish to open the invitation to all students. One school might have the dean/director and a small faculty team select the papers, while another school might involve all faculty and students, as well as colleagues from other departments, in reading the papers and selecting the one to be forwarded. Some schools may wish to give their own award/recognition to all students who submitted entries, whether or not it was the one forwarded to the NLN, and other schools may decide to post all their students' papers to their website for all other students to see.   Since each school is unique, the NLN does not presume to prescribe how any of them should manage these internal processes.

Students may use any format to tell their story. For example, they may write a typical paper, or they may compose a poem, short story, or dialogue/conversation with an individual considering applying to that school. All submissions to the NLN, however, must be in written format; videotapes, DVDs, or other formats will not be accepted. In addition, papers submitted to the NLN may not exceed three typed, double-spaced pages, using APA format and 12 point font. References are not required.

The paper is to be submitted electronically to Tish Hess at by the dean/director of the school or a faculty member. The submission is to be accompanied by an electronic-format photo of the author (alone, with her/his student colleagues, or with faculty), which will be used when announcing results of the competition.


Submitted papers will be evaluated by NLN members who were involved in designing this competition using the following criteria:

  • The paper clearly focuses on excellence in nursing education, what fosters excellence, and what it means to be part of a COE school
  • The paper conveys a powerful story about excellence from a student's point of view
  • Specific examples from the student's educational environment are included
  • The quality of writing is at a level of excellence
  • All format guidelines are followed

The reviewers will recommend the winning paper to the NLN president and CEO who will notify the dean/director of the student's school. All other schools that submitted papers also will be notified in writing of the outcome of the competition. It is expected that each school will share the outcome with students who participated and any other interested parties.  


Announce the competition to COE schools

April 1st
The single paper from each COE school, along with a photo of the student who wrote that paper, to be submitted to the NLN in electronic format by the dean/director of the school or a faculty member

All submissions are reviewed, recommendations are submitted to the NLN's President and CEO, and letters regarding the outcome of the competition are sent

Author of the "winning" paper is presented at the Summit and receives a certificate of recognition

"Winning" paper is published in the the winter edition of the NLN Report.

Submit student papers and questions about the competition to:

Tish Hess, MS, RN
Director, Membership and Excellence Initiatives
National League for Nursing
61 Broadway, 33rd Floor
New York, NY 10006


Nursing Education
Nursing Education
Nursing Education
Nursing Education