AACN Essentials

The Essentials

Essentials Updates

  • May 23, 2023
    AACN Releases New Statement on the Timeline for Essentials Implementation
    AACN recognizes that evolving to a new approach to education will take time and that programs may still be engaged in the process of shifting to CBE beyond the initial projected timeframe for Essentials implementation. Read more...
  • May 18, 2023
    New Content Posted to the Essentials Teaching Resource Database

    AACN searchable teaching resource database includes new resources and features an overview, details on how to use, recommended learning and assessment strategies, and related tools and readings. View Resources
  • May 10, 2023
    New Regional Workshops on Competency-Based Education Planned

    AACN is excited to announce the second round of dates and locations for our regional workshops, following a series of sold-out events this spring. These workshops provide faculty with valuable strategies, resources, and solutions for implementing the 2021 Essentials and transitioning undergraduate and graduate programs to competency-based education (CBE). View Workshops
  • April 12, 2023
    Implementation Spotlight - UCLA School of Nursing
    As part of UCLA School of Nursing’s comprehensive integration of the AACN Essentials, leaders from UCLA Health were invited to share practice-readiness data they compiled about newly licensed nurse residents. In this academic-practice partnership, areas for improvement were aligned with the Essentials domains by directors of the nurse residency program. Read more...
  • April 5, 2023
    New Q&A with Dr. Robert Englander, Noted Expert on CBE

    In the March/April 2023 issue of AACN’s Syllabus, Dr. Robert Englander, a noted expert on competency-based education (CBE) and a member of AACN’s Assessment Expert Working Group, answers 10 questions in the newsletter’s popular Q&A section. Click here to access the Syllabus Q&A. Watch Dr. Englander’s webinar on Moving the Needle on Meaningful Competency Assessment here.
  • March 29, 2023
    Contribute Your Teaching Tools to the Tool Kit

    AACN recently added new resources to the Teaching Resource Database that help faculty implement the Essentials. Among the top features is a Teaching Resource Database that provides an easy way to access learning strategies, suggested resources, recommended content, and assessment measures for each Domain for Nursing. Find out more about submitting a teaching resource for inclusion in this database.
  • March 22, 2023
    AACN has released the Guiding Principles for Competency-Based Education and Assessment to assist nurse faculty engaged in transitioning their programs to competency-based curricula based on the 2021 Essentials. Developed by the Essentials Assessment Expert Working Group, this document outlines the key components of competency-based education (CBE). Read more...

  • March 15, 2023
    In February, the Board of Commissioners of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) voted that the CCNE’s 2018 Standards will remain in effect at least through June 30, 2024. The CCNE Standards Committee is currently considering proposed revisions to the Standards for Accreditation of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Programs (2018). Read more...

  • March 8, 2023
    Join Dr. Mary Jo Vetter, Director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and Clinical Associate Professor at New York University, for a stimulating discussion on how design thinking can be used as a unifying framework to foster an understanding of the social determinants of health in a baccalaureate nursing program. Read more...

  • March 1, 2023
    Last week, AACN unveiled a new web page in our Essentials implementation tool kit focused on the many resources and training opportunities for faculty related to competency-based education (CBE). This resource features the AACN definition of CBE, outlines the basic principles and benefits of CBE, and offers an overview of CBE assessment. Read more...

  • February 22, 2023
    On February 27 from 2-3 pm (ET), AACN’s Essentials Implementation Webinar Series continues with a 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, as she shares helpful ideas and strategies for integrating CBE into your nursing programs. Read more...

  • February 15, 2023
    AACN is hosting a series of regional workshops for faculty seeking strategies, resources, and solutions to adapting their nursing programs to meet the 2021 Essentials. With the first workshop planned for Duke University in Durham, NC on March 17, presenters will provide an overview of competency-based education (CBE), compare CBE to traditional teaching and learning, and discuss how CBE improves clinical judgment and prepares nurse graduates for clinical practice. Read more...

  • February 8, 2023
    Last fall, AACN launched a new website to better showcase resources and information available to help faculty implement the Essentials, including curriculum mapping tools, an updated set of frequently asked questions, and implementation spotlights from member schools. Among the new features is a Teaching Resource Database. Read more...

  • 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...

  • November 2, 2022
    Showcase your school’s success in advancing curricular innovation and moving to competency-based education! AACN is seeking brief video updates from member schools to post in our online Gallery of Leadership, which illustrate efforts to implement the 2021 EssentialsRead more...

  • October 26, 2022
    AACN has launched a newly redesigned webpage to better showcase the resources and information available to help schools implement the 2021 Essentials. An important new feature of the site is a searchable teaching resource database containing learning strategies, recommended content, and assessment options that you can consider using as you adapt your programs. Read more...

  • October 19, 2022
    Alverno College launched its new Essentials-aligned DNP curriculum this fall. Faculty used the Essentials as a foundation to enhance an application- and experience-based DNP program to develop nurses with high-level leadership and clinical skills. Read more...

  • October 12, 2022
    The San Juan Bautista School of Medicine Nursing Program will launch its new BSN curriculum, adapted to meet the new AACN Essentials, by January 2023. San Juan Bautista is a community-based school, where students actively participate in community health promotion and activities in partnership with the Puerto Rico Health Department and Puerto Rico College of Professional Nursing. Read more...

  • October 5, 2022
    Nursing faculty teaching a strategic and financial business planning course at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) identified an opportunity to evaluate their course materials with the AACN Essentials. Read more...

  • September 28, 2022
    AACN is asking each member school dean to identify one lead faculty member to serve as an Essentials Champion. This individual will be your school’s central point of contact and communication liaison who will have access to a new network of leaders engaged in Essentials implementation. Read more...

  • September 21, 2022
    On September 19, AACN issued a comprehensive update on the resources and opportunities available to nursing schools working to implement the 2021 Essentials. This communication includes an announcement about the new Essentials Champion program, details on the upcoming Faculty Development Conference, and more. Access the update...

  • September 14, 2022
    AACN is interested in hearing from schools about their efforts to adapt nursing programs to meet the 2021 Essentials. We are compiling School Spotlights to share lessons learned and strategies for moving to the new competency standards.  Read more...

  • September 7, 2022
    The University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) will launch its new Essentials-aligned BSN curriculum this fall, with MSN and DNP curriculums set to launch in fall 2024.UMSON began the work toward implementation in May 2021, forming an Essentials Curricular Revisions Task Force composed of subgroups focused on curriculum, faculty development, resources, simulation, student services, and ad hoc topics. Read more...

  • August 31, 2022
    Western Governors University (WGU) entered its 25th year of competency-based education in 2022, with a redeveloped RN-to-BSN program curriculum aligned with the new AACN Essentials. Launched on February 1, 2022, the program was designed to meet the new competency standards and better prepare students for the everchanging role of the professional nurse caring for diverse populations. Read more...

  • August 25, 2022
    The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) has developed a crosswalk of their Standards for Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs – Practice Doctorate to the new AACN Essentials. COA is encouraging Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) programs to meet the new Essentials and use this tool in their work toward curriculum redesign. Read more...

  • August 17, 2022
    The AACN Board of Directors approved two new statements that affirm the association’s support for the master’s degree in nursing and expectations regarding the preparation of nurse faculty. Since the approval of the Essentials in April 2021, members have raised questions about the future of master’s education and how to approach preparing faculty given the new competency guidelines. Read more...

  • August 10, 2022
    AACN has not endorsed any products or services related to the implementation of the new 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. AACN is committed to facilitating the transition to the 2021 Essentials, which extends to working with corporate partners looking to develop products, services, and educational offerings to assist in implementation efforts and the move to a competency-based  education (CBE). Read more...

  • August 3, 2022
    The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) released a revised set of Nurse Practitioner Role Core Competencies, which delineates competency expectations for graduates of NP programs. The competencies are written to be measured and evaluated at the clinical doctoral level as NONPF endorses the DNP for entry into NP practice. Read more...

  • Susan CorbridgeJuly 27, 2022
    On August 15, Susan Corbridge, PhD, APRN, FAANP, FCCP, FAAN, will officially join the AACN staff in the role of Chief Essentials Program Officer. Dr. Corbridge is a Clinical Professor Emerita within the Department of Behavioral Nursing Science at the University of Illinois Chicago, where she formerly served as the Executive Associate Dean in the College of Nursing. Read more...


  • July 13, 2022
    The University of South Florida (USF) is making strides toward implementing the 2021 AACN Essentials with a ground-up approach led by their New Essentials Task Force. All USF nursing faculty mapped current courses to Essentials sub-competencies, which were then consolidated into a high-level crosswalk to identify gaps, redundancies, and thread-points to meet all domains, competencies, and spheres of care. Read more...

  • July 6, 2022
    The University of Pittsburgh began the long and diligent process of implementing the new AACN Essentials in 2021 with the help of AACN’s Essentials Implementation Webinar Series and additional resources, as well as insights from the University of Maryland. Leaders at Pitt formed a faculty task force representing their BSN, MSN, and DNP programs to develop student learning outcomes (SLOs) for each domain of the new EssentialsRead more...

  • June 29, 2022
    Samuel Merritt University (SMU) has completed their first step in implementing the new AACN Essentials for their FNP program. The team at SMU focused on small steps to start the multi-year process of implementing the new curriculum standards. Read more...

  • June 22, 2022
    Kent State University has started their journey toward competency-based nursing education with the new AACN Essentials. The College of Nursing spent the 2021-22 academic year curriculum mapping courses in their BSN, eight MSN concentrations, post-master’s DNP, and BSN-to-DNP programs to the new Essentials domains, competencies, and sub-competencies. Read more...

  • June 15, 2022
    AACN defines competency-based education as “a system of instruction, assessment, feedback, self-reflection, and academic reporting that is based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge, attitudes, motivations, self-perceptions, and skills expected of them as they progress through their education.”  Read full definition of competency-based education here.

  • June 1, 2022
    The Journal of Professional Nursing (JPN), an AACN’s peer-reviewed journal, is seeking manuscripts focused on how schools are moving to adapt their programs using the new model and framework outlined in the Essentials, including new approaches to teaching and learning assessment. To discuss your manuscript idea, contact editor Dr. Patricia Morton.

  • May 25, 2022
    The 2022 Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) International Forum will take place at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Denver, CO, June 1-3. This year’s theme is “Aligning the New AACN Essentials and QSEN: The Future of Quality and Safety Competencies in Nursing Education and Practice.” 

  • May 4, 2022
    AACN has not endorsed any products or services related to the implementation of the new AACN Essentials. AACN is committed to facilitating the transition to the Essentials, which extends to working with corporate partners. AACN encourages organizations interested in collaboration and promotional opportunities to complete the vendor interest survey. If AACN members have questions about specific products and services that claim to be endorsed by the association, please contact essentials@aacnnursing.org.

  • April 27, 2022
    The AACN Board of Directors endorsed the latest primary palliative care competencies for undergraduate and graduate nursing students (CARES/G-CARES, 2nd ed), which the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium prepared. A crosswalk document is available to help align the new competencies with the Essentials to guide faculty toward curricular integration of palliative care education and evaluate programmatic outcomes in the hospice/palliative/supportive care sphere of care.

  • April 18, 2022
    AACN is offering an ongoing series of webinars to help schools implement the new competency expectations for professional nursing programs. These events highlight basic how-to’s as well as practical approaches to curriculum alignment and competency evaluation. To date, 12 webinars have been offered, including Beginning Steps for Building a Competency-Based Curriculum, Transforming Nursing Education through Curriculum Innovation, Curriculum Evaluation and Integration of Competencies, and Assessment Strategies for a Competency-Based Curriculum. All webinars may be accessed for free by AACN member deans, faculty, and students. 

  • April 6, 2022
    Join us April 13 at 2:00 pm (ET) for the next Essentials Implementation Webinar - Opportunities for Cross Curricular Collaboration: Implementing Competency-Based Learning. Pesenters will discuss the process of moving faculty through curricular transformation to competency-based learning across multiple entry- and advanced-level nursing programs. 

  • March 8, 2022
    The Journal of Professional Nursing is AACN’s peer-reviewed official journal and is the leading source for scholarly publication related to the new AACN Essentials and Essentials implementation in nursing education. Of particular interest are articles on how to integrate the Essentials into the curriculum and implementing competency-based education. To discuss your manuscript idea, contact editor Dr. Patricia Morton at Trish.Morton@utah.edu.

  • February 23, 2022
    AACN is committed to sharing information and resources to assist with the implementation of the new AACN Essentials. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document addresses common areas of concern, including implementation expectations, the new model for nursing education, CCNE accreditation, and clinical hours and curriculum expectations. Questions related to Nursing Education as a concentration in graduate programs in also addressed. Please send requests for answers to additional FAQs to essentials@aacnnursing.org

  • February 9, 2022
    AACN is pleased to announce the availability of a Public/Population Health Nursing Assessment Vignette to measure BSN level competencies in population health. The vignette can be used as part of a course in population or public health or as part of an end-of-program course to determine student ability to synthesize population health concepts with other knowledge/skills across the patient care continuum. 

  • February 2, 2022
    On Wednesday, February 9 at 1:00 pm ET, AACN will offer the latest Essentials Implementation webinar titled Implementation of Advanced-Level Competencies in Graduate Nursing Education led by Dr. Gail Armstrong from the Oregon Health & Science University. With five additional webinars planned through April 2022, upcoming events will focus on integrating entry-level and advanced competencies into nursing curricula, moving to competency-based education, curriculum mapping, transformation through innovation, and cross-curriculum collaboration.  

  • January 26, 2022
    New Essentials Implementation Tools Posted

    • A spreadsheet focused on the concept of Clinical Judgment, which includes recommendations for integrated learning strategies, assessment strategies, exemplars, and recommended content.

    • A new Curriculum Map created by Dr. Dawn Mueller-Burke from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, which covers all 10 Essentials Domains and Level 2 Sub-Competencies.

  • January 19, 2022
    On January 27 at 2:00 pm (ET), AACN will commence the second series of Essentials Implementation Webinars with a session titled Essentials Implementation: Creating a New Future Together led by Dr. Casey Shillam from the University of Portland. For more details on upcoming webinars and to register, click here.

  • January 12, 2022
    AACN is  offering sessions at the virtual Doctoral Education Conference that focuses on facilitating the transition to the new Essentials. The sessions will be held on Friday, January 21.  To find out more about these sessions and to register for the conference, click here.

  • January 5, 2021
    AACN is pleased to announce the launch of the Essentials Discussion Corner created to help faculty have robust conversations about the AACN Essentials

  • December 22, 2021
    AACN is pleased to announce that seven new events are planned for our popular Essentials Implementation Webinar Series. Spanning January-April 2022, the upcoming webinars will focus on integrating entry-level and advanced competencies into nursing curricula, moving to competency-based education, curriculum mapping, transformation through innovation, and cross-curriculum collaboration.

  • December 15, 2021
    The Essentials Implementation Tool Kit is a continuously evolving resource designed to assist faculty in implementing the new standards. Faculty have created several curriculum mapping tools to help schools align their programs with the new competency expectations. The new tools are posted online. In addition, a presentation given by three AACN leaders - Dr. Jerry Mansfield, Mount Carmel Health System; Dr. Cynthia McCurren, University of Michigan-Flint; and Dr. John McFadden, Barry University - for the Mayo Clinic earlier this fall is now accessible online. The presentation is titled The Re-Envisioned AACN Essentials: What Lies Ahead?

  • December 8, 2021
    The upcoming QSEN International Forum will be hosted in Denver, CO on June 1-3, 2022 with sessions reflecting the conference theme: Aligning the New AACN Essentials and QSEN: The Future of Quality and Safety Competencies in Nursing Education and Practice. The QSEN Institute has issued a call for abstracts for presentations or posters that describe innovative projects or research related to competencies in healthcare education or practice focused on quality and safety. Abstracts are due by January 1, 2022. Click here for more details.

  • December 1, 2021
    With nearly 16,000 registrations for AACN’s first Essentials Implementation Webinar Series, faculty nationwide were introduced to the new competency expectations for nursing graduates as well as steps for implementing a competency-based approach to nursing education. All webinars are available for free on-demand. AACN has posted a new Q&A summary to address some frequently asked questions that were raised by webinar attendees. Stay tuned for details on 2022 Essentials Implementation Webinars, which will focus on curriculum mapping and evaluation, implementing advanced-level competencies, embracing innovation, and other core topics.

  • November 3, 2021
    AACN is pleased to announce that 73 leaders representing nursing education, research, and practice have been appointed to serve on new AACN Essentials Tool Kit working groups. With individual groups formed to address each of the 10 domains and 8 concepts identified in the Essentials. The volunteers engaged in this work will identify learning strategies, recommended content, and assessment measures to help schools transition their programs to meet the new competency expectations. Click here to view the working group members.

  • October 27, 2021
    AACN is pleased to announce that the new AACN Essentials Implementation Steering Committee has been formed to help guide the transition to the new competency standards. The committee is co-chaired by leaders in education and practice, including Jackie Dunbar-Jacob from the University of Pittsburgh and Jerry Mansfield from the Mount Carmel Health System. Other members include Bimbola Akintade, University of Maryland; Kristine L'Ecuyer, Saint Louis University; Susan Ruppert, University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston; Maureen Swick, Atrium Health; Holisa Wharton, Lander University; and Cynthia McCurren, University of Michigan-Flint (Board Liaison). Click here to read the Committee’s charge.

  • October 20, 2021
    In the September/October issue of Syllabus, the teaching tools developed by the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) are considered in light of the new competency expectations. The Essentials identify hospice/palliative/supportive care across the lifespan and with diverse populations as one of the four spheres of care critical to nursing practice. To support the efforts of schools moving to enhance and standardize their palliative care education, ELNEC is providing free access to its entry- and advance-level curriculum for review. Contact elnec@coh.org to request access.   

  • September 1, 2021
    AACN is pleased to welcome Dorothy Dulko, PhD, ARNP-BC, AOCNP, WHNP-BC, to the staff in the new role of Implementation Director of the AACN Essentials. Dr. Dulko brings over 30 years of experience as an advanced practice nurse, hospital administrator, educator, and researcher. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Dulko, who will lead AACN’s efforts to facilitate implementation of the new Essentials.

  • August 25, 2021
    Nurse Educator has published a collection of eight articles on the new AACN Essentials, specifically Domain 5: Quality and Safety. Written by Dr. Gerry Altmiller from The College of New Jersey and colleagues, all articles may be accessed for free.  

  • August 18, 2021
    New Essentials Implementation Webinar Series

  • August 11, 2021
    Read the Executive Summary of the Essentials
  • August 4, 2021
    Essentials References Now Available
  • July 28, 2021
    Upcoming AACN Programming on Implementing the New Essentials

  • July 21, 2021
    Q&A with Practice Leaders on the Essentials Task Force
  • July 14, 2021
    Upcoming AACN Programming on Implementing the New Essentials