The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education

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. With the endorsement of the new AACN Essentials by the membership in April 2021, academic nursing is moving toward a new model and framework for nursing education using a competency-based approach.  AACN is committed to providing resources, education, and facilitate this transformation.

Ways to Contribute

Latest Updates

  • February 1, 2023
    On February 27, AACN’s Essentials Implementation Webinar Series continues with a new program on Competency-Based Education: Practical Tips to Move Your Work Forward. Join Dr. Nancy O’Neill, acting director of the University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, for strategies on how to accelerate your school’s transition to competency-based education (CBE). Read more...

  • January 25, 2023
    On February 2, AACN’s Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA) will host a webinar titled The AACN Essentials and the Graduate Student - What Does it Mean for Me? Dr. Brittany Hay from the University of South Florida will provide an overview on the purpose and intent of the 2021 Essentials and discuss how competency-based education will be used to prepare more practice-ready nurses. Read more...

  • January 18, 2023
    In 2020, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus College of Nursing launched a simulation experience for its MSN Family and Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner programs called Simulation Utilized for Measuring and Mentoring Integrative Thinking. Read more... 

  • January 11, 2023
    AACN encourages faculty to use the 2021 Essentials as a rich resource to advance their scholarship and research in the area of nursing education and the preparation of practice-ready nurses. The Journal of Professional Nursing (JPN) is currently soliciting publications related to the implementation of the Essentials, new approaches to teaching and learning assessment, and the transition to competency-based nursing education. Read more...

  • January 10, 2023
    AACN released a new Vision for Sharing Data and Information Across Nursing Education, Practice, and Regulation.  The new statement provides recommendations for schools to consider when evaluating technologies, including those focused on the implementation of the AACN Essentials, as well as for companies looking to offer solutions to meet the needs of nursing schools and the larger healthcare community. Read the press release here.

  • January 4, 2023
    AACN is committed to offering sessions at all our national conferences focused on facilitating the transition to the 2021 Essentials. At the Doctoral Education Conference planned for January 19-21 in San Diego, CA, two sessions will be held, including Incorporating Climate Change into Doctor of Nursing Practice Curricula and Envisioning the 2021 Essentials in a DNP Strategic and Financial Business Planning Course. Visit the website to find out more about these sessions and to register for the conference.

  • December 14, 2022
    On December 12, AACN announced the launch of a new Gallery of Leadership spotlighting insights and exemplars from member schools whose faculty are leading the move to competency-based nursing education. With videos now available from seven schools of nursing, faculty and deans are invited to explore successful implementation strategies underway at schools. Read more...

  • December 7, 2022
    With a recently revised curriculum centered on social determinants of health and population-focused care across practice settings, Rutgers University School of Nursing-Newark and New Brunswick was well positioned to implement the new AACN Essentials into its entry-level programs. Read more...

  • November 30, 2022
    On December 7 at 2:00 pm (ET), Dr. Shelley A. Johnson, dean of the School of Nursing at Florida A&M University, will present a webinar titled Early Lessons: On the Journey to CBE in Pre-licensure Nursing Education. This presentation will focus on insights gained from infusing competency-based education (CBE) into a pre-licensure BSN program. Read more...

  • November 16, 2022
    Following an information session held at AACN's Academic Nursing Leadership Conference in October, CCNE updated the Frequently Asked Questions related to accreditation expectations and the 2021 Essentials, which is published on the AACN website (see pages 11-12). Read more...

  • November 9, 2022
    Last summer, the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing hosted nursing educators from across the country for the three-day, intensive Vanderbilt Informatics Summer Teaching Academy (VISTA). Vanderbilt faculty experts developed the workshop to teach faculty how to integrate informatics competencies related to data, information, and technology from the new AACN Essentials. Read more...

View past updates

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

Latest Resources

 New! Regional Workshops 

Faculty Development Workshops on Competency-Based Education

Duke University, Durham, NC
Friday, March 17, 2023
Register Here

Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN
Date TBD - April 2023
Registration opening soon!

UT Health San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Friday, June 2, 2023
Registration opening soon!

Learn More

New Teaching Resource Database

New Teaching Resource Database

AACN has released a new teaching resource database that includes extracted resources from the 18 Domain and Concept Tool Kit Working Groups. This database is continuously evolving, and new teaching resources will be posted. All resources will be reviewed regularly for currency and relevance with new resources added as appropriate.  

Access the Database

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