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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

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

  • August 10, 2022
    AACN has not endorsed any products or services related to the implementation of the new AACN Essentials. If AACN members have questions about specific products and services that claim to be endorsed by the association, please contact AACN is committed to facilitating the transition to the 2021 Essentials, which extends to working with corporate partners looking to develop products, services, and educational offerings to assist in implementation efforts and the move to a competency-based  education (CBE). AACN’s Essentials Technology Work Group is assessing member needs and working to identify products that might benefit member schools as they transition to CBE. AACN encourages organizations/companies interested in collaboration and promotional opportunities to complete the vendor interest survey.

  • August 3, 2022
    The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) released a revised set of Nurse Practitioner Role Core Competencies, which delineates competency expectations for graduates of NP programs. The competencies are written to be measured and evaluated at the clinical doctoral level as NONPF endorses the DNP for entry into NP practice. All nurse practitioner programs are expected to meet the AACN Essentials and the NONPF competencies. To facilitate integration of these expectations into NP programs, NONPF has developed a Competency Table that maps the Essentials Level 2 Sub-Competencies to the NP Role Core Competencies.  To learn more, register for NONPF’s August 18th information session.

  • July 27, 2022
    On August 15, Susan Corbridge, PhD, APRN, FAANP, FCCP, FAAN, will officially join the AACN staff in the role of Chief Essentials Program Officer. Dr. Corbridge is a Clinical Professor Emerita within the Department of Behavioral Nursing Science at the University of Illinois Chicago, where she formerly served as the Executive Associate Dean in the College of Nursing. Read more...

  • July 13, 2022
    The University of South Florida (USF) is making strides toward implementing the 2021 AACN Essentials with a ground-up approach led by their New Essentials Task Force. All USF nursing faculty mapped current courses to Essentials sub-competencies, which were then consolidated into a high-level crosswalk to identify gaps, redundancies, and thread-points to meet all domains, competencies, and spheres of care. Read more...

  • 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.

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