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"Participation in the Quality Award Program, both as an applicant and Examiner has been of immeasurable benefit to me personally and professionally.  Not only have I been able to develop a marketable skillset, but I have created a knowledge base, a peer network, and a best practice resource that has been of great value to me as an individual and to what I contribute to my own organization.  Serving as a Master Examiner has been one of the most significant accomplishments of my career and one that I am proudest of.  In terms of importance and pride, the knowledge and benefit that I have gained as a result of participation in the Quality Award Program is second only to the differences I may have made at the bedside." - Alana Moore, Director of Quality and Performance Excellence, Sunrise Senior Care

"My contribution as an AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Examiner has led me from the role of a CNA, speech pathologist, and licensed nursing home administrator to that of the Chair of the AHCA Quality Improvement Committee, member of the AHCA/NCAL Quality Cabinet, member of the NCAL Quality committee, contributing faculty member for ahcancalED and more importantly to the role of Quality Professional.  I have met colleagues that have furthered my ability to impact positive change through the implementation of the Baldrige criteria and QAPI within a corporate multi-facility management structure. The contacts that I have made as an Examiner have changed the path of my life and my career, and my service has allowed me to impact centers across the country." -
Stacey Merritt Hord, Vice President of Quality, Golden Living

“As I enter my third year as a judge, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to serve AHCA.  Bringing the Baldrige Framework to organizations that serve our seniors and those in need of skilled nursing care is critically important, and I’m proud to be at least a small part of improving life for those individuals.  The staff at AHCA is dedicated to that same mission as well as to their volunteers – they value and appreciate all that we do and we appreciate them back!” - Casey Mackert , Client Coach and the Director of Baldrige Services for Six Disciplines Consulting Services

"I encourage alumni examiners to volunteer as I have to help the AHCA program.  AHCA’s initiative provides me an extraordinary and immediate opportunity to impact the quality and sustainability of skilled nursing and assisted living across the nation.   I am experiencing the passion commitment and innovation of examiners, judges and an association that is making a difference in the lives of Americans." - Kevin Deats, Owner, Spire Quality Consulting

“As an Examiner for the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award, you will have the opportunity to help drive performance excellence in the long-term care industry.  These organizations are very mission-focused, and your work will help them learn how to more effectively meet the needs of the residents/patients that they serve.  In my opinion, the AHCA/NCAL program is a role model performance excellence recognition program.  Over 1000 long-term care facilities per year apply at three different levels of recognition.  Applicant organizations demonstrate a high level of retention as these organizations progress through the Award levels.  As an Examiner, you will receive world-class training, then work with a small team to assess and provide feedback to these organizations. Most of us know someone who is currently receiving or has received long-term care. 
Our work makes a difference!” - P
aul Grizzell, President, Core Values Partners, Inc


National Quality Award Examiners

The AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Program

The AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Program recognizes long term and post-acute care centers across the nation that strive for improved quality care. The program, based on the Baldrige Performance Excellence criteria, sets high standards for quality and encourages centers to commit, achieve, and excel in quality performance.

The program is open exclusively to AHCA/NCAL member centers in good standing with the organization. With more than 13,000 members, the program seeks to recognize those centers that are outstanding in their quality efforts.

Application Levels

Applicants may apply for three progressive levels of awards; each level has its own distinct rigors and requirements for quality and performance excellence.

Bronze – Commitment to Quality: The goal of this award level is to provide applicants with the tools and resources they need for continuous performance improvement.

Silver – Achievement in Quality: At this level, applicants continue to learn and develop effective approaches that help improve performance and health care outcomes.

Gold – Excellence in Quality: At this level, applicants must show superior performance in areas of the criteria including leadership, strategic planning, and customer and staff satisfaction.

National Quality Award Examiners

Silver and Gold applications are reviewed by volunteer Senior Examiners and Master Examiners, respectively. 

Senior Examiners work on 4 person teams evaluating 5-6 Silver applications, up to 25 pages each. Teams evaluate each application using a formal process established by AHCA/NCAL, complete a feedback report identifying strengths as well as opportunities for improvement, and determine whether the application should be recommended to receive a Silver Award.

Master Examiners work on 3 person teams evaluating 1-2 Gold applications, up to 55 pages each. Teams evaluate each application using a formal process established by AHCA/NCAL, complete a feedback report identifying strengths as well as opportunities for improvement, and in some cases, present the application to a Panel of Judges for Site Visit consideration. Master Examiners may also be asked to conduct a Site Visit at a Gold applicant organization to verify and clarify strengths and opportunities found within the application. 

Please note that recruitment is not open for Bronze Examiners. Bronze applications are reviewed by a small number of highly trained Examiners who are selected by AHCA/NCAL.


Candidate Experience and Skills

AHCA/NCAL welcomes Senior and Master Examiner applicants with experience in the Baldrige Performance Excellence criteria and/or application of systematic quality improvement from both within and outside the long term care profession.

Candidates with prior Examiner experience may apply to serve as a Master Examiners, while individuals new to the Baldrige criteria or without Examiner experience should apply as Senior Examiners. 

Above all, the program looks for individuals that exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Passion for continuous quality improvement
  • Willingness to learn and take feedback
  • Adaptability
  • Ability to work effectively in a team environment
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Strong communication skills- both verbal and written
  • Good time management skills
  • Ability to meet deadlines and work independently


Examiner Responsibilities and Time Commitment

The review process requires a significant investment of time. Applicants must secure support from the leadership of their organization before applying to become an Examiner. An overview of Examiner responsibilities is outlined below. All applicants must be willing and able to perform these tasks:

  • Complete a pre-training assignment, estimated to take 8-10 hours. The program office anticipates the assignment to be sent on January 5, with a deadline of February 2.
  • Attend the in-person training session:
    • ​Master Examiners: February 13-15, 2017, location TBD.
    • Senior Examiners: February 15-17, 2017, location TBD.
  • Participate in weekly conference calls with assigned Examiner team during the review period.
    • Master Examiner review period: March 1-May 22, 2017
    • Senior Examiner review period: March 10-June 12, 2017
  • Complete assigned review work on each application during the review period; on average Examiners report spending 40-60 hours on review work. Note that this may be longer for new Examiners unfamiliar with the process.
  • Participate in the in-person review session:
    • Master Examiners: May 22-24, 2017 (select Master Examiner teams will not attend the review session. If you prefer not to attend, please indicate this on your application)
    • Senior Examiner Team Leaders, June 12-14, 2017 (while team leaders are only required to attend, team members are expected to be available to work remotely during this period)

Key Dates (subject to change)

Master Examiners:

  • Pre-Training Assignment: January 5-February 2, 2017
  • Master Examiner Training: February 13-15, 2017, location TBD
  • Master Examiner (Gold) review period begins: March 1, 2017
  • Master Examiner Review Session: May 22-24, 2017, location TBD
  • Site Visit Period: June 2-July 18, 2017
  • Award Recommendation Meeting: August 8-10, 2017

Senior Examiners:

  • Pre-Training Assignment: January 5-February 2, 2017
  • Senior Examiner Training: February 15-17, 2017, location TBD
  • Senior Examiner (Silver) review period begins: March 10, 2017
  • Senior Examiner Team Leader Review Session: June 12-14, 2017, location TBD

Travel Expenses

AHCA/NCAL will cover the costs associated with travel to the training and/or in person review session for all Examiners required to attend. This includes airfare and hotel accommodations. Breakfast and lunch are served during the meetings and Examiners also receive a small daily stipend to offset any additional costs.

​Examiners who do not fulfill the duties and responsibilities listed above will not be reimbursed for travel expenses associated with the training and/or review session, and may be asked to reimburse AHCA/NCAL for costs associated with the in-person training.

Selection Criteria

Returning Examiners are selected based on previous service. The evaluation process for returning Examiners relies on the results of the peer review process. Examiners are chosen based on competence, understanding of the criteria, ability to work as a team member, honoring guidelines and timelines, quality of feedback reports, and overall commitment to the program.

New Senior Examiners are chosen based on expertise in the Baldrige criteria, quality discipline, success in leadership of award-recipient organizations, interest in systematic quality improvement, and other salient factors.

Master Examiners are selected from Gold recipient centers, highly experienced Senior Examiners and individuals with review experience with other Baldrige-based award programs.

All Examiners must have access to private email, be proficient in the use of Microsoft Office Products, be able to use Webex, and online document sharing software (i.e. Box, Dropbox, GoogleDocs, etc.).

Application Process

There are two parts to the application process.

  1. Pre-Application Webinar: This is a brief (22 minute) webinar that provides an overview of the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award program, Examiner requirements and differences between this program and other state or national programs. Access the webinar here.
  2. Examiner Application: This is the online application that all Examiners are required to submit. Access the application here.

Please see the table below to determine which part of the application process you need to complete.

Examiner Experience Pre-Application Webinar Examiner Application
New Examiners
Note that the Examiner Application form will ask a series of questions about the pre-application webinar, so you must view it before submitting your application.
Examiners with other Baldrige program experience (state or national) Strongly encouraged, not required Required
Examiners with less than two years AHCA/NCAL experience Strongly encouraged, not required Required
Returning Examiners with 2+ year experience Not applicable Required, experience details exempt

The deadline to apply is December 2, 2016.