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

  • December 8, 2021
    The upcoming QSEN International Forum will be hosted in Denver, CO on June 1-3, 2022 with sessions reflecting the conference theme: Aligning the New AACN Essentials and QSEN: The Future of Quality and Safety Competencies in Nursing Education and Practice. The QSEN Institute has issued a call for abstracts for presentations or posters that describe innovative projects or research related to competencies in healthcare education or practice focused on quality and safety. Abstracts are due by January 1, 2022. Click here for more details.

  • December 1, 2021
    With nearly 1,600 registrations for AACN’s first Essentials Implementation Webinar Series, faculty nationwide were introduced to the new competency expectations for nursing graduates as well as steps for implementing a competency-based approach to nursing education. All webinars are available for free on-demand. AACN has posted a new Q&A summary to address some frequently asked questions that were raised by webinar attendees. Stay tuned for details on 2022 Essentials Implementation Webinars, which will focus on curriculum mapping and evaluation, implementing advanced-level competencies, embracing innovation, and other core topics.

  • November 3, 2021
    AACN is pleased to announce that 73 leaders representing nursing education, research, and practice have been appointed to serve on new AACN Essentials Tool Kit working groups. With individual groups formed to address each of the 10 domains and 8 concepts identified in the Essentials. The volunteers engaged in this work will identify learning strategies, recommended content, and assessment measures to help schools transition their programs to meet the new competency expectations. Click here to view the working group members.

  • October 27, 2021
    AACN is pleased to announce that the new AACN Essentials Implementation Steering Committee has been formed to help guide the transition to the new competency standards. The committee is co-chaired by leaders in education and practice, including Jackie Dunbar-Jacob from the University of Pittsburgh and Jerry Mansfield from the Mount Carmel Health System. Other members include Bimbola Akintade, University of Maryland; Kristine L'Ecuyer, Saint Louis University; Susan Ruppert, University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston; Maureen Swick, Atrium Health; Holisa Wharton, Lander University; and Cynthia McCurren, University of Michigan-Flint (Board Liaison). Click here to read the Committee’s charge.

  • October 20, 2021
    In the September/October issue of Syllabus, the teaching tools developed by the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) are considered in light of the new competency expectations. The Essentials identify hospice/palliative/supportive care across the lifespan and with diverse populations as one of the four spheres of care critical to nursing practice. To support the efforts of schools moving to enhance and standardize their palliative care education, ELNEC is providing free access to its entry- and advance-level curriculum for review. Contact to request access.   

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Sample Resources from the Essentials Implementation Tool Kit

The Essentials Tool Kit is a continuously evolving resource designed to assist faculty and others engaged in implementing the new Essentials, including the transition to competency-based education and competency-based assessment. The Tool Kit will provide recommendations and examples of learning strategies, suggested resources, recommended content, and assessment strategies for each of the 10 domains and 8 concepts identified in the Essentials. Recommendations will be provided for both entry-level and advanced-level nursing education.
Tool kit content is reviewed regularly for currency and relevance with new resources added as appropriate. Preliminary tool kit resources include: