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 DRAFT 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 DRAFT 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.
View DRAFT Essentials Document
Academic Nursing Leadership Conference (ANLC)
October 20, 2020 – 12:30-3:30pm
The task force will present a session for deans and associate deans attending the annual ANLC titled AACN Essentials: Continuing the Conversation. This session includes a brief presentation on the progress of the Task Force to date and a deep dive into the current draft of the Essentials, including small group discussion and a wrap-up summary from the task force leadership. To register, click here.
AACN’s Fall Faculty Forum
December 7-9, 2020
Designed for faculty teaching in baccalaureate and graduate programs, this event connects nursing faculty with thought leaders to explore the disruption and innovation occurring in nursing education. Sessions focus on a variety of topics related to AACN’s work on re-envisioning the Essentials. To register, click here.
Past Presentations and Feedback Opportunities
Advanced-Level Virtual Meetings
As part of our work to build consensus around the new Essentials, AACN hosted three virtual meetings in June 2020 to collect feedback from faculty and other stakeholders. Discussion at these meetings focused on advanced-level Essentials that pertain to master's and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. An overview of the work and progress to date was shared by Dr. Cynthia McCurren and Dr. Jean Giddens of the Essentials Leadership Team with the virtual meeting attendees. Dr. Jean Bartels presented an overview on competency-based education (CBE) what it is and what it is not.
Regional Meeting, March 5-6, 2020, Atlanta, GA
The task force collected feedback focused on the Essentials related to Entry into Professional Nursing Practice from 154 attendees representing 91 schools.
Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Summit, February 20-22, 2020, San Antonio, TX
Dr. Cynthia McCurren, Task Force Co-Chair, and Rachel Start, Task Force practice representative, provided an update on Essentials revision process.
Regional Meeting, February 17-18, 2020, San Antonio, TX
The task force collected feedback focused on the Essentials related to Entry into Professional Nursing Practice from 93 participants representing 50 schools.
Doctoral Education Conference, January 30-February 1, 2020, Naples, FL
The task force collected feedback on the latest draft of the Essentials at the Like School Discussions and provided updates and details during the closing session.
National Faculty Meeting, November 25, 2019-January 15, 2020
AACN Member Schools hosted individual faculty meetings between November and January to discuss the evolving Essentials and related issues. Over 270 member schools responded (33% response rate) and submitted more than 160 pages of feedback. The American Nurses Association Ethics Education Subcommittee also submitted a response. A summary document is being prepared.
View Letter to Membership | View National Faculty Meeting Presentation | View Discussion Questions
Baccalaureate Education Conference, November 23, 2019, Orlando, FL
Task Force chairs Drs. Jean Giddens and John McFadden provided an update on the Essentials revision, discussed opportunities for feedback, and answered questions. The plans for a National Faculty Meeting were announced.
Academic Nursing Leadership Conference, October 19-22, 2019, Washington, DC
The task force shared the first draft of its work with the membership, including the preamble to the new Essentials, the 10 identified domains (or areas of practice), and domain descriptions. Meeting attendees provided input on this material durig 5 meeting sessions.
View Presentation | View Like School Discussion Notes
Recorded Presentations and Slides - Competency Based Education by Dr. Jean Bartels
Dr. Jean Bartels presents a foundational overview to demystify the concept of Competency-Based Education.
View a summary of Dr. Bartels' presentation at the 2019 Baccalaureate Conference.