In This Section

Curriculum Guidelines

AACN's curriculum guidelines provide a framework for positioning baccalaureate and graduate-degree nursing programs to meet the healthcare challenges of a new century. Nursing deans and faculty nationwide have used the following guidelines produced by AACN and other authorities in designing curricula used to prepare highly qualified nurses  for a health system in continual change.

APRN Programs
Other Speciality Areas
Interprofessional Education
Gerontology
Cultural Competencies
Distance Education

Other Speciality Areas

Clinical Nurse Leader

CNL Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Education and Practice (2013)

Environmental Health 

National Environmental Education & Training Foundation Position Statement on Health Professionals and Environmental Health Education 

Genetics/Genomics 

Essential Genetic and Genomic Competencies for Nurses With Graduate Degrees

Essential Nursing Competencies and Curricular Guidelines for Genetics and Genomics 

Mass Casualty 

Incidents Educational Competencies for Registered Nurses Responding to Mass Casualty Incidents 

Obesity

Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Obesity, June 2017
These competencies support the development and refinement of faculty development programs for the teaching and assessment of obesity care. This work is the product of a consensus process involving educators from over 20 organizations and societies representing a dozen health professions, including AACN. The competencies were developed for those professionals actively engaged in the prevention and management of obesity.

Oral Health 

Oral Health: An Essential Component of Primary Care 

Interprofessional Oral Health Faculty Tool Kit for Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and Midwifery Programs 

Palliative Care 

Peaceful Death: Recommended Competencies and Curricular Guidelines for End-of-Life Nursing Care (link to ELNEC page)

Psychiatric Mental Health 

Defining and Using Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Skills in Undergraduate Nursing Education 

Public Health/Population Health 

Clinical Prevention and Population Health Curriculum Framework 

Recommendations for Undergraduate Public Health Education 

Substance Abuse 

Substance Use Education for Nurses: Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) 

Women's Health 

Women's Health Curricula: Final Report on Expert Panel Recommendations for Interprofessional Collaboration across the Health Professions

Gerontology

Baccalaureate Competencies 

Recommended Baccalaureate Competencies and Curricular Guidelines for the Nursing Care of Older Adults (2010)
AACN and the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University College of Nursing worked collaboratively with an expert panel to develop these competencies and curricular guidelines to serve as a supplement to the 2008 AACN Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice. The purpose of this document is to assist nurse educators in incorporating geriatric-focused nursing content and learning opportunities into the baccalaureate nursing curriculum, including both the didactic and clinical experiences to ensure that nursing students are able to provide the necessary geriatric care for the nation’s aging population.  This project was generously funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation.

Advanced Practice Competencies 

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Competencies (2016)                     
View 2010 Version
This 2010 publication delineates the entry-level competencies for graduates of master’s, doctorate of nursing practice (DNP), and post-graduate programs preparing primary care NPs who serve the adult-gerontology population. The competencies are intended to be used in conjunction with — and build upon — the graduate and APRN core competencies outlined in the AACN (2006) Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice or the AACN (1996) Essentials of Master’s Education for Advanced Practice Nursing. In addition, these competencies build upon the NONPF (2006) core competencies for all nurse practitioners. These consensus-based competencies focus on the unique practice knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the adult-gerontology primary care NP.

The national Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification, and Education (LACE), finalized in 2008, defines advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and standardized requirements for each of the four APRN regulatory components included in LACE. Under this model, now endorsed by 45 national nursing organizations, the certified nurse practitioner (CNP) is defined as one of four APRN roles. In addition to the four roles, APRNs are educated and practice in at least one of six population foci: family/individual across the lifespan, adult-gerontology, pediatrics, neonatal, women’s health/gender-related or psych/mental health. In addition, the CNP is prepared with the acute care CNP competencies and/or the primary care CNP competencies.

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Competencies (2012) 
This 2012 publication delineates the entry-level competencies for graduates of master’s, doctorate of nursing practice (DNP), and post-graduate programs preparing acute care NPs who serve the adult-gerontology population. The competencies are intended to be used in conjunction with — and build upon — the graduate and APRN core competencies outlined in the AACN (2006) Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice or the AACN (1996) Essentials of Master’s Education for Advanced Practice Nursing. In addition, these competencies build upon the NONPF (2006) core competencies for all nurse practitioners. These consensus-based competencies focus on the unique practice knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the adult-gerontology acute care NP.  Significant overlap in the acute care and primary care NP competencies does exist; however, the practice of the acute care and primary care adult-gerontology NP differs. The scope of practice of either the acute care or primary care NP is not setting specific but rather is based on patient care needs. The focus of the adult-gerontology acute care NP is to provide patient-centered, quality care across the entire adult-older adult age spectrum.

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Competencies (2010)
This 2010 publication delineates entry-level competencies for all graduates of master’s, doctorate of nursing practice (DNP), and post-graduate programs preparing adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) for certification and licensure. The competencies are intended to be used in conjunction with and build upon the graduate and APRN core competencies outlined in the AACN (2006) Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice or the AACN (1996) Essentials of Master’s Education for Advanced Practice Nursing. In addition, these competencies build upon the National CNS Core Competencies (2008) for all clinical nurse specialists. These competencies focus on the unique practice knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the adult-gerontology CNS.

The Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification, and Education(LACE), finalized in 2008, defines advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and standardized requirements for each of the four APRN regulatory components included in LACE. Under this, now endorsed by 45 national nursing organizations, the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is defined as one of four APRN roles. In addition to the four roles, APRNs are educated and practice in at least one of six population foci: family/individual across the lifespan, adult-gerontology, pediatrics, neonatal, women’s health/gender-related, or psych/mental health.

Recommended Competencies for Older Adult Care for the Family CNP and Women’s Health CNP (2010)
This 2010 publication describes the recommended competencies of new graduates of graduate-degree and post-graduate certificate programs preparing certified nurse practitioners (CNPs) prepared to care for those populations that provide care to older adults but who are not adult-gerontology CNPs. Specifically, these populations include the family CNP who provides care across the lifespan, and the women’s health or gender-related CNP (APRN Consensus Work Group and NCSBN APRN Advisory Committee, 2008). This set of recommended competencies is not intended to alter or replace competencies developed for these CNP populations. Rather, the competencies described here complement other role and population competencies and highlight those areas of competence and evidence-based knowledge that CNPs providing care to older adults should have in order to improve health outcomes, quality of life, and level of functioning of the growing population of older adults.

Recommended Competencies for Older Adult Care for CNSs Prepared for Women’s Health/Gender Specific and Across the Lifespan Populations (2010)
This 2010 publication describes the recommended competencies of new graduates of graduate-degree and post-graduate certificate programs preparing clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) prepared to care for those populations that provide care to older adults but are not adult-gerontology CNSs. Specifically, these populations include across the lifespan, and the women’s health or gender-related CNS as defined in the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education Group, 2008). This set of recommended competencies is not intended to alter or replace competencies developed for these CNS populations. Rather the competencies described in this document complement and are intended to augment the national CNS core (National CNS Competency Task Force, 2008) and population-focused competencies. The competencies delineated in this document are intended to highlight those areas of competence and evidence-based knowledge that CNSs providing care to older adults should have in order to improve health outcomes, quality of life, and level of functioning of the growing population of older adults.

Other

Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) in Healthcare for Older Adults (2014)

Cultural Competencies

Cultural Competency in Baccalaureate Nursing Education 
This document provides a framework to facilitate the attainment of cultural competence by baccalaureate nursing graduates. Consistent with The Essentials of Baccalaureate Nursing Education for Professional Nursing Practice, these competencies apply to practice in a variety of healthcare settings, patients across the wellness-illness continuum, and patients across the lifespan, in collaboration with the interprofessional team. 

Tool Kit for Culturally Competent Baccalaureate Nursing Education 
This tool kit provides resources and exemplars and to facilitate implementation of cultural competencies in baccalaureate nursing education. The tool kit identifies significant content, teaching-learning activities, and resources that will help faculty integrate cultural competency in nursing curriculum. 

Cultural Competencies for Graduate Nursing Students 
Developed specifically for master’s and doctoral nursing graduates, this set of cultural competencies apply to clinical practice, education, and research in a variety of healthcare settings, with patients across the wellness-illness continuum and lifespan, and in collaboration with the interprofessional team. 

Cultural Competency Toolkit for Graduate Nursing Students 
This toolkit provides resources and exemplars to facilitate implementation of cultural competencies in graduate nursing education. The toolkit provides nursing models, reference lists, case studies, websites, etc. that can be used to enhance teaching-learning activities. The toolkit is to be used to assist both faculty members and graduate nursing students in integrating cultural competency in practice, education, and research.

Distance Education

The growth of distance education courses and programs for the delivery of nursing education has increased and is expected to continue to increase. Recognizing this growth and the need to ensure the public that nursing education programs maintain a high standard of quality, the Alliance for Nursing Accreditation endorses the following standard: 

All nursing education programs delivered solely or in part through distance learning technologies must meet the same academic program and learning support standards and accreditation criteria as programs provided in face-to-face formats, including the following: 

  • Student outcomes are consistent with the stated mission, goals, and objectives of the program; and 

  • The institution assumes the responsibility for establishing a means to assess student outcomes. This assessment includes overall program outcomes, in addition to specific course outcomes, and a process for using the results for continuous program improvement. 

Mechanisms for ongoing faculty development and involvement in the area of distance education and the use of technology in teaching-learning processes are established. Appropriate technical support for faculty and students is provided. 

When utilizing distance learning methods, a program provides learning opportunities that facilitate development of students' clinical competence and professional role socialization and establishes mechanisms to measure these student outcomes. 

When utilizing distance learning methods, a program provides or makes available resources for the students' successful attainment of all program objectives. 

Each accreditation and program review entity incorporates the review of distance-education programs as a component of site visitor/evaluator training. 

This statement on Distance Education Policies has been endorsed by the following organizations: 

American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation
American College of Nurse-Midwives Division of Accreditation
American Nurses Credentialing Center Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
National Certification Corporation
National Council of State Boards of Nursing
National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, Council on Accreditation
National Certification Board of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners & Nurses