Essentials Task Force

AACN’s Essentials Task Force is moving ahead with its charge to update all three Essentials documents, which are used to ensure quality in nursing programs offered at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral (DNP) levels.

Task Force Charge

AACN has a long history of leadership in the establishment of the educational benchmarks and expected outcomes of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education programs. In keeping with this tradition, this task force is charged with re-envisioning the Essentials, which delineate the expected competencies of graduates of baccalaureate, master’s, and DNP programs as well as the essential curricular elements that are to be present in these programs. The task force began its work in September 2018 and is charged with:

1. Using the AACN Vision for Academic Nursing as a basis, identify how trends and expectations will influence nursing’s roles and the practice of baccalaureate, master’s, and DNP prepared nursing graduates within healthcare delivery for the next decade.

2. Assess the practice community’s expectations for nursing graduates at the different levels and how these may change over the next ten years. 

3. Considering AACN’s Vision for Academic Nursing, make recommendations on the Essential areas to be addressed. By specific program level, this would include identifying practice domains and competency measures for:

  • All baccalaureate nursing graduates, including BSN, RN to BSN, and accelerated BSN graduates
  • Post-baccalaureate MSN and Master’s Entry (second degree) program graduates
  • DNP graduates

4. Review and agree on common definitions for competence, competency, and competency framework. 

5. Describe a set of observable behaviors for each competency that would be expected of each graduate. 

6. Align the competencies for baccalaureate, master’s, and DNP education, ensuring that they are appropriately leveled and advance nursing practice across the healthcare system and continuum of care. 

7. Develop recommendations for the practice learning experiences necessary to assure that nursing graduates are prepared for safe and high-quality nursing practice, including the placement within the curriculum, types, and length.

8. Address the use of simulation in the curriculum for the preparation of baccalaureate, master’s, and DNP graduates.

9. Develop recommendations and strategies for AACN and the full contingent of academic programs to disseminate and implement the new Essentials.

Final Draft of the Essentials and Road Map

The Essentials document is provided to share the progress to date on the re-envisioning of the Essentials Series. This Essentials document includes the Introduction, Domains, Descriptors, Contextual Statements, Competencies and Sub-competencies. AACN advises to read the descriptors and context statements ahead of the competencies, as these provide a needed anchor and context to better understand the domain and competencies. The development of the final Essentials document has been guided by input from AACN member schools and the larger community of interest. 

Note: Competencies are observable and measurable behaviors that are demonstrated at multiple times across a program of study (see Dr. Jean Bartels' video on Competency-Based Education). The competencies apply across both entry into professional nursing education as well as advanced professional nursing education. Sub-competencies delineate the specific behaviors for each competency at the two levels: entry into professional nursing education and advanced professional nursing education. 

Competency-Based Education
Task Force Members

Task Force Leadership

                   Jean Giddens, PhD, RN, Co-Chair  
Virginia Commonwealth University
School of Nursing   
                      Cynthia McCurren, PhD, RN Co-Chair
University of Michigan - Flint
School of Nursing  
    John McFadden, PhD, CRNA, Co-Chair 
Barry University
Barry College of Nursing and Health Sciences 
        Jean Bartels, PhD, RN Consultant   
    Linda Caldwell, DNSc, ANP-BC, Consultant  
        Nancy DeBasio, PhD, RN, Consultant  
    Lin Zhan, PhD, RN, FAAN
Board Liaison
Dean and Professor
University of Memphis  


Task Force Members

  Angela Amar, PhD, RN
University of Nevada-Las Vegas
School of Community Health Science 
        Susan E. Mullaney, MPPA/MPH, RN
Vice President
Center of Clinician Advancement
United Health Group 
  Erica Hooper Arana, DNP, RN
Assistant Professor
University of San Francisco
School of Nursing and Health Professions 
        Marcella Rutherford, PhD, RN
Nova Southeastern University 
Ron and Kathy Assat College of Nursing  
  Jacklyn Barber, EdD, RN
Dean and Professor
Morningside College 
School of Nursing 
        Susan Ruppert, PhD, FNP-C
Professor/Associate Dean
University of Texas Health Science Center - Houston
Cizik School of Nursing 
  Carol Buck-Rolland, EdD, APRN 
Clinical Professor, Vice Chair, Graduate Nursing Program
University of Vermont
College of Nursing and Health Sciences 
        Martha Scheckel, PhD, RN
Founding Director of Nursing
University of St. Thomas
  Jill Case-Wirth, MSN, MHA
WellStar Health System 
        Jenny Schuessler, PhD, RN
Dean & Professor
University of West Georgia
Tanner Health System School of Nursing 

  Lori Escallier, PhD, RN
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
College of Nursing 
      Casey Shillam, PhD, RN-BC 
University of Portland 
School of Nursing  
  Eileen Fry-Bowers, PhD, RN
Associate Professor
University of San Diego
Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science 
        Mary Stachowiak DNP, RN, CNL
Assistant Professor, Director Clinical Leadership Track
Rutgers University
School of Nursing 
  Beverly Havens Foster, PhD, RN
Clinical Professor, Chair of Honors Program
University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill 
School of Nursing 
        Rachel Start, MSN, RN
Director of Ambulatory Nursing Practice
Department of Patient Care Services
Rush Oak Park Hospital 
  Vincent Hall, PhD, RN
Program Director, Master’s in Nursing Programs
Walden University
School of Nursing 
        Allison Squires, PhD, RN
New York University
Rory Meyers College of Nursing 

  Jacqueline Hill, PhD, RN
Bowie State University
Center for Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Nursing
      Susan Swider, PhD, RN
Rush University 
College of Nursing

  Kristin Lee, MSN, RN
Clinical Assistant Professor
University of Missouri-Kansas City
School of Nursing and Health Studies 
      Marge Wiggins, DNP, RN 
Maine Health System

  Kim Litwack, PhD, RN
Dean & Professor
University of WI – Milwaukee
College of Nursing 
      Marisa Wilson, DNSc, RN
Associate Professor, Specialty Track Coordinator, MSN Nursing Informatics
School of Nursing, Family, Community, and Health Systems
The University of Alabama-Birmingham
School of Nursing 
  Connie Miller, DNP, RNC-OB
Chair, General Nursing and Health Education Division
University of Arizona
College of Nursing 
        Danuta Wojnar, PhD, RN
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Seattle University 
College of Nursing  
  Mary M. Morin, RN, NEA-BC
Vice President, Clinical Effectiveness and Employee Health Services
Sentara Healthcare
                                            Geraldine Young, DNP, FNP-BC
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Frontier Nursing University
AACN Staff Liaisons                                     Joan Stanley, PhD, NP
Chief Academic Officer
(202) 463-6930 ext.  254

Rick García, PhD, RN
Director of Nursing Education
(202) 463-6930 ext. 251 

Kathy McGuinn, MSN, RN
Director of Interprofessional Education and Practice Partnerships
(202) 463-6930 ext. 262 

Krisi Yosifova
Nursing Education Assistant
(202) 463-6930 ext. 250

Shirin Samimi-Farr
Project Coordinator
202-463-6930 ext. 229