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AACN Essentials

Used to define quality in nursing education, the AACN Essentials outline the necessary curriculum content and expected competencies of graduates from baccalaureate, master’s, and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. With the endorsement of the new AACN Essentials by the membership in April 2021, academic nursing is moving toward a new model and framework for nursing education using a competency-based approach.  AACN is committed to providing resources, education, and guidance to bring about this transformation.

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Important Note: AACN has not endorsed any products or services related to the implementation of new AACN Essentials.  If AACN members have questions about specific products and services that claim to be endorsed by the association, please contact


AACN Essentials Marketplace

AACN is considering requests from companies and organizations interested in developing products, services, and education to assist in the implementation of the new Essentials. Those interested must complete the AACN Essentials Partners Interest Survey.

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Share Your School's Efforts

AACN is interested in hearing from member schools about efforts to adapt nursing programs to meet the expectations outlined in the 2021 Essentials. What approaches are you using to revise your curriculum to meet the new standards? Are there any tools or strategies particularly helpful in advancing this work? Are you working closely with practice partners to implement new learning and assessment measures? Please send us a short summary of the work underway at your school for publication in an upcoming issue of News Watch. Send emails to

School Spotlights

Watch the video - Get Excited about the New AACN Essentials

The Essential Update - The Latest on AACN's New Essentials

  • July 6, 2022
    The University of Pittsburgh began the long and diligent process of implementing the new AACN Essentials in 2021 with the help of AACN’s Essentials Implementation Webinar Series and additional resources, as well as insights from the University of Maryland. Leaders at Pitt formed a faculty task force representing their BSN, MSN, and DNP programs to develop student learning outcomes (SLOs) for each domain of the new EssentialsRead more...

  • June 29, 2022
    Samuel Merritt University (SMU) has completed their first step in implementing the new AACN Essentials for their FNP program. The team at SMU focused on small steps to start the multi-year process of implementing the new curriculum standards. Read more...

  • June 22, 2022
    Kent State University has started their journey toward competency-based nursing education with the new AACN Essentials. The College of Nursing spent the 2021-22 academic year curriculum mapping courses in their BSN, eight MSN concentrations, post-master’s DNP, and BSN-to-DNP programs to the new Essentials domains, competencies, and sub-competencies. Read more...

  • June 15, 2022
    AACN defines competency-based education as “a system of instruction, assessment, feedback, self-reflection, and academic reporting that is based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge, attitudes, motivations, self-perceptions, and skills expected of them as they progress through their education.”  Read full definition of competency-based education here.

  • June 1, 2022
    The Journal of Professional Nursing (JPN), an AACN’s peer-reviewed journal, is seeking manuscripts focused on how schools are moving to adapt their programs using the new model and framework outlined in the Essentials, including new approaches to teaching and learning assessment. To discuss your manuscript idea, contact editor Dr. Patricia Morton.

  • May 25, 2022
    The 2022 Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) International Forum will take place at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Denver, CO, June 1-3. This year’s theme is “Aligning the New AACN Essentials and QSEN: The Future of Quality and Safety Competencies in Nursing Education and Practice.” 

  • May 4, 2022
    AACN has not endorsed any products or services related to the implementation of the new AACN Essentials. AACN is committed to facilitating the transition to the Essentials, which extends to working with corporate partners. AACN encourages organizations interested in collaboration and promotional opportunities to complete the vendor interest survey. If AACN members have questions about specific products and services that claim to be endorsed by the association, please contact

  • April 27, 2022
    The AACN Board of Directors endorsed the latest primary palliative care competencies for undergraduate and graduate nursing students (CARES/G-CARES, 2nd ed), which the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium prepared. A crosswalk document is available to help align the new competencies with the Essentials to guide faculty toward curricular integration of palliative care education and evaluate programmatic outcomes in the hospice/palliative/supportive care sphere of care.

  • April 18, 2022
    AACN is offering an ongoing series of webinars to help schools implement the new competency expectations for professional nursing programs. These events highlight basic how-to’s as well as practical approaches to curriculum alignment and competency evaluation. To date, 12 webinars have been offered, including Beginning Steps for Building a Competency-Based Curriculum, Transforming Nursing Education through Curriculum Innovation, Curriculum Evaluation and Integration of Competencies, and Assessment Strategies for a Competency-Based Curriculum. All webinars may be accessed for free by AACN member deans, faculty, and students. 

  • April 6, 2022
    Join us April 13 at 2:00 pm (ET) for the next Essentials Implementation Webinar - Opportunities for Cross Curricular Collaboration: Implementing Competency-Based Learning. Pesenters will discuss the process of moving faculty through curricular transformation to competency-based learning across multiple entry- and advanced-level nursing programs. 

  • March 8, 2022
    The Journal of Professional Nursing is AACN’s peer-reviewed official journal and is the leading source for scholarly publication related to the new AACN Essentials and Essentials implementation in nursing education. Of particular interest are articles on how to integrate the Essentials into the curriculum and implementing competency-based education. To discuss your manuscript idea, contact editor Dr. Patricia Morton at

  • February 23, 2022
    AACN is committed to sharing information and resources to assist with the implementation of the new AACN Essentials. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document addresses common areas of concern, including implementation expectations, the new model for nursing education, CCNE accreditation, and clinical hours and curriculum expectations. Questions related to Nursing Education as a concentration in graduate programs in also addressed. Please send requests for answers to additional FAQs to

  • February 9, 2022
    AACN is pleased to announce the availability of a Public/Population Health Nursing Assessment Vignette to measure BSN level competencies in population health. The vignette can be used as part of a course in population or public health or as part of an end-of-program course to determine student ability to synthesize population health concepts with other knowledge/skills across the patient care continuum. 

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