Rounds With Leadership: Building on the Past, Envisioning the Future

Published October 23, 2019

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

October 23, 2019 - Building on the Past, Envisioning the Future

Thank you to all the deans, associate deans, and special guests who joined us in Washington, DC this week to celebrate our 50th Anniversary!  We will never forget the energy, enthusiasm, and joy that permeated all of our anniversary celebrations and events.  

The last 50 years truly have been transformative for all stakeholders engaged in health care, higher education, and academic nursing. As patient care expectations and healthcare delivery models continue to evolve, nurse educators must also think differently about how we prepare the next generation of professional nurses.

In March 2019, the Board of Directors endorsed AACN’s Vision for Academic Nursing, which will help steer schools of nursing through the challenges that lie ahead. This forward-focused document explores overarching considerations and future goals related to meeting the needs of a dynamic, global society and a diverse patient population. AACN’s vision for nursing education is derived in part from a review of current trends and relevant assumptions regarding registered nurse preparation and practice. Recommendations address education pathways, curricular frameworks, resource needs, and learning methodologies to move nursing towards a preferred future. The recommendations in the white paper are aspirational and provide a pathway for nursing education to move forward over time.

In considering our immediate future, AACN already is engaged in work that will reshape the future of nursing education as we re-envision the Essentials series. The AACN Essentials outline the necessary curriculum content and expected competencies of graduates from baccalaureate, master’s, and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs, as well as the clinical support needed to ensure quality nursing education. The reconceptualized Essentials will be used to accelerate nursing’s move in the direction of competency-based education, which will shape the development of hundreds of programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and other entities. As part of this work, AACN held a number of feedback sessions at our conference this week and is planning to prepare member schools to host a National Faculty Meeting later this year. We are also gearing up to announce multiple opportunities for members to provide feedback as we work to achieve consensus on how best to prepare the future nursing workforce.

In addition, AACN recognizes the need to foster inclusive learning environments that prepare nurses to provide high quality, culturally appropriate, and congruent health care. Evidence indicates that a more diverse workforce is associated with improved access to care for racial and ethnic minority patients, greater patient choice and satisfaction, and better educational experiences for students. AACN is committed to preparing a community of scholars, clinicians, educators, and leaders who fully value the importance of diversity to promoting the health of the nation. AACN is well positioned with the formation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Group to identify system barriers and facilitators to developing a nursing workforce that more closely mirrors the patient population.

In order to grow more leaders in academic nursing, AACN is actively working to expand our leadership development portfolio under the umbrella of AACN LEADS. This growing menu of programs offers enrichment opportunities for deans, faculty, and staff at different points along the leadership continuum and will soon include on-demand leadership education modules; a Senior Academic Nursing Leadership Program for experienced academic nursing leaders; and a Coaching Academy for deans and directors interested in increasing their leadership potential.

AACN also recognizes that advancing innovation in nursing requires support for those looking to develop their scholarship and the science needed to inform nursing education and clinical practice. In 2020, we will launch the AACN Foundation for Academic Nursing to develop new funding opportunities to advance faculty-led research initiatives at AACN member schools. In fact, the revenue raised from the ads contained in this program will be used to seed a new nursing research grant program to be announced early next year.

Looking ahead, AACN is taking steps to elevate our professional development opportunities for members in order to better meet their needs. Launching in December 2020, AACN will present Transform 2020 - our first national conference for faculty teaching in baccalaureate and/or master’s nursing programs. This new conference event integrates and builds upon AACN’s Baccalaureate Education and Master’s Education Conferences and will feature thought leaders who are redefining academic nursing. New developments in nursing education and practice, along with the latest innovations impacting higher education and healthcare delivery, will be presented during program sessions that are offered exclusively for faculty teaching in baccalaureate and master’s programs. Make plans now to join us for this conference, which provides an opportunity for robust discussions and network-building with those on the leading edge of nursing education. 

Though the future may bring many surprises, one thing you can count on is that AACN will be there to provide leadership, guidance, and support to member schools looking to navigate change and meet tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities. Thank you for being a part of our remarkable history.