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This article has beendouble-blind peer reviewedIn this article…How employers can address the nursing shortage by creating a positive work environmentThe Pathway to Excellence programme and practice standardsA district general hospital’s progress towards Pathway to Excellence designationThe nursing shortage is a multifactorial problem requiring employers to improve recruitment and retentionA positive work environment and empowerment improve staff recruitment, staff retention and quality of careThe Pathway to Excellence programme involves frontline staff in decision-making, empowering them to make changesThe Pathway to Excellence practice standards are designed to embed a culture of sustained excellence across organisationsThe nursing shortage means employers need to find strategies to recruit and retain staff, and ensure they provide high-quality care. Pathway to Excellence is an accredited programme focused on shared decision-making to empower staff to influence the care they provide. This article reports on the progression of the first district general hospital in the UK to aim for Pathway to Excellence designation. It discusses the six standards that are core to the Pathway to Excellence programme and the work that has already been done to help the hospital achieve designation in 2018/19. It explores some of the benefits of this journey towards accreditation in relation to vacancy rates, patient experience and nursing indicators.Pauley T, Fox C (2018) Using a positive practice environment framework to support recruitment. Nursing Times; 114: 10, 26-28.