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.
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.