AACN Essentials

The Essentials

Welcome to the 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.  AACN is dedicated to providing resources and support to facilitate this shift in nursing education. Whether you're an educator, student, or healthcare professional, explore this microsite to stay informed and engaged as we shape the future of nursing education together.

Plan to Attend AACN's Next Vendor Showcase - Monday, April 29 at 10:00 AM (ET)Don't Miss AACN's Next Vendor Showcase!

As your school continues to evolve its nursing programs and transition to competency-based education, we want to ensure you stay abreast of the latest tools and services to enhance your school's Essentials implementation efforts. This event is specifically designed for AACN member deans, faculty, and administrators who are considering innovative technology solutions to elevate your curriculum and streamline program administration. Register now for the next virtual showcase, which will be held on Monday, April 29 at 10:00 am (ET).

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Essentials Tool Kit

Essentials Tool Kit

Guides & Talking Points

Guides & Talking Points

Webinars & Workshops

Webinars & Workshops

Download & Order Essentials

Download & Order Essentials

Latest Updates & Resources

Register Now for a Regional Faculty Development Workshop Focused on CBE
April 3, 2024
Building on last year’s popular series of workshops, AACN is hosting a regional workshop this spring for faculty seeking strategies, resources, and solutions for adapting their nursing programs to meet the 2021 Essentials. Called Essentializing Your Curriculum: Moving Ahead with Competency-Based Education (CBE), this workshop is designed to accelerate your program’s transition to CBE. On June 14, a one-day workshop at Tennessee State University in Nashville will be offered with initial training in CBE provided by AACN’s Essentials Coaches and experts with the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN). Content will be similar to previous workshops and include more in-depth training in curricular transition and new content on using AI to develop progression indicators. Click here for more details and to register.

Upcoming Webinar on Disseminating Your Essentials-Related Learning Strategies
March 27, 2024
On Tuesday, April 16 from 3:00-4:00 pm (ET), AACN is presenting a webinar on Getting Past the Blank Page! Disseminating Your Work with a Focus on AACN’s Essentials. Join Dr. Virginia Reising from Rush University and Dr. Kristin Ashford from the University of Kentucky to learn how to transform your scholarly ideas into publishable final products. The presenters will focus on how to share and disseminate effective teaching strategies that you have used or developed to implement the Essentials for publication in AACN’s Teaching Resource Database.

Citing the AACN Essentials in Your Scholarly Work
March 20, 2024
AACN encourages faculty to use the 2021 Essentials to advance their scholarship and research into preparing practice-ready nurses. The Journal of Professional Nursing is soliciting publications related to Essentials implementation, new approaches to teaching and learning assessment, and the transition to competency-based education. To discuss your manuscript idea, contact editor Dr. Patricia Morton at Trish.Morton@utah.edu. For those seeking to use Essentials content in journal articles and other forms of public dissemination, permission is needed and may be secured by contacting AACN’s Editorial Director Bill O’Connor at boconnor@aacnnursing.org. The process is simple, and the turnaround time for approval is typically 2-3 days.

Essentials-Focused Program Session at the Upcoming Deans Annual Meeting
February 28, 2024
AACN is committed to offering sessions at all our national conferences focused on facilitating the transition to the 2021 Essentials. At the Deans Annual Meeting coming to Washington, DC on March 23-25, AACN is hosting a panel presentation titled “The Inside Track on Meeting the 2021 Essentials and Moving to Competency-based Education.” This informative session will provide the latest updates on helpful resources and effective strategies for adapting your curriculum to meet today’s Essentials. Panelists will introduce AACN's new Competency Assessment Framework and discuss the work underway to facilitate learning assessment. Come prepared to ask questions and get the answers needed to accelerate your Essentials implementation efforts and the transition to competency-based education. For more information, visit Deans Annual Meeting and past Essentials-related conference sessions web pages.

CCNE Issues Final Call for Comments on Proposed Changes to its Accreditation Standards
February 14, 2024
On February 1, 2024, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) issued a final Call for Comments on proposed changes to the CCNE Standards for Accreditation of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Programs. Among the revisions under consideration are changes to required nursing education standards and guidelines, including components of the 2021 Essentials. CCNE is especially interested in receiving comments about the latest proposed changes, which have been made based on feedback received from October 26-December 8, 2023. The changes include recommendations on a faculty-to-student ratio in NP tracks and minimum practice hours for students in DNP and direct-care NP tracks. Comments are due by February 22, 2024, and may be sent by email to ccnestandards@ccneaccreditation.org.

Explore Solutions at AACN’s Upcoming Vendor Showcase
February 7, 2024
On February 29, AACN will hold its second virtual Vendor Showcase to spotlight services and tools available to assist member nursing schools with meeting essential needs. This event was specifically designed for deans, faculty, and staff who are considering innovative technology solutions to elevate their curriculum and streamline program administration. Seven companies will be featured at this event – ATI Nursing, CORE Higher Education, Education Management Solutions, Exxat, Laerdal, ProjectConcert, and Sentinel U® – and each will share details about their services to assist with experiential learning, competency tracking, curriculum mapping, simulation, learning assessment, and other needs. The event is free to members, and registration is now open.

Your Feedback Needed on the Essentials Website
January 31, 2024
In response to user feedback on the look and functionality of the Essentials website, AACN has made some changes to make the site easier to navigate. We invite all faculty and other site visitors to take a brief, 10-minute survey to let us know what you think about the improvements. Our objectives with the survey are to gather comments from AACN members; identify any unmet needs; and collect recommendations on future website enhancements. Questions address specific site features, top content, and usability. Your feedback is crucial in helping us identify areas of improvement and strength. 

Member School Update on Essentials
January 30, 2024
AACN issued its biannual update on the progress underway to implement the 2021 Essentials, including a roundup of resources and opportunities open to member schools. Recent developments include the newly released Essentials Competency Assessment Framework and the announcement of AACN's second Vendor Showcase coming in February. This comprehensive update includes Engagement Opportunities, Learning Updates, and Implementation Resources.

New Essentials Competency Assessment Framework Released
December 19, 2023
Developed by the Assessment Expert Working Group, AACN has published two companion guides to facilitate implementation of 2021 Essentials at nursing schools nationwide. The Guiding Principles on Competency-Based Education and Assessment outlines the six elements that distinguish competency-based education (CBE) from traditional approaches to teaching/learning and addresses the nine Core Principles for Assessment of Learners in CBE. Just released, the Essentials Competency Assessment Framework illustrates the evolution of a student’s learning experience as they journey through competency development and demonstration of achievement. The framework encompasses competency assessment at both Level One for entry-level nursing education and Level Two for advanced-level nursing education. Combined, the documents create a common understanding of CBE for the learner and the assessor. The documents build upon each other, outlining the importance of reframing how nursing educators approach assessment to ensure their strategies are centered on the individual learner and their ability to demonstrate understanding and attainment of the competencies and sub-competencies.

Important Note: AACN has not endorsed any products or services related to the implementation of AACN Essentials. If AACN members have questions about specific products and services that claim to be endorsed by the association, please contact essentials@aacnnursing.org.

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Essentials Discussion Corner

Essentials Discussion Corner

AACN invites member deans and faculty to share details about their school’s Essentials implementation efforts, ask questions, and share practices that may help inform decision-making and next steps. 

To help facilitate discussions, AACN has created a dedicated discussion area to foster conversations about the Essentials. The forum can be used to share details about your school’s Essentials implementation efforts, ask questions, and share practices that may help inform decision-making and next steps. Members are encouraged to lead and participate in discussions. 

Join the Discussion