AACN Accelerates Innovation in Nursing Education through a New Project Funded by the American Nurses Foundation

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 24, 2022 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) was awarded $1.5 million in funding through the American Nurses Foundation’s Reimagining Nursing Initiative to launch a three-year project titled Competency-Based Education for Practice-Ready Nurse Graduates. This project is designed to accelerate transformation in nursing education by supporting innovative approaches to competency development and skills assessment for new nurses. 

This groundbreaking work will help schools of nursing nationwide to more rapidly adapt their programs to meet AACN’s new competency expectations for nursing graduates outlined in The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education.

“The bold decision by the nation’s academic nursing leaders to move toward a competency-based model for nursing education has sparked a new era of innovation that will require fresh approaches to teaching, student assessment, clinical learning, and engagement with our partners in practice,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “We applaud our colleagues at the American Nurses Foundation for recognizing the importance of changing how we prepare nurses to better meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population, changes in higher education, new learner expectations, and the evolving healthcare system.”

As outlined in the new Essentials, AACN believes that competency-based education will help clarify the significant and unique contributions that nurses make to keep patients and communities safe. This approach to education will crystallize nursing’s professional identity and raise awareness among employers, patients, and the public about the full range of knowledge and skills that nurses bring to healthcare delivery. Since the 2021 Essentials were developed in close collaboration with practice leaders and other key stakeholders, this new model for preparing nurses calls for closer integration between education and practice to address workforce needs.

Through this new initiative, AACN will provide funding and technical assistance to ten schools of nursing looking to pilot the Essentials, specifically focusing their efforts on population health and one other content area (or domain) selected by each school. The emphasis on population health was intentional since this area of practice is fundamental to supporting nursing’s role in addressing the social determinants of health and systemic inequities in the healthcare system. AACN will work directly with pilot schools and their practice partners to identify barriers and facilitators to implementing competency-based education. The curriculum, learning experiences, assessment strategies, and evidence-based tools identified through the pilot will be shared with all schools of nursing through broad dissemination of findings and lessons learned.  

AACN is planning to issue a call for applications to identify pilot schools later this summer. For more details, contact Dr. Katie Fioravanti, AACN’s principal staff lead for this project, at kfioravanti@aacnnursing.org.

Earlier today, the American Nurses Foundation’s Reimagining Nursing Initiative announced the ten nurse-led projects selected to drive healthcare transformation across the U.S. With each pilot receiving up to $1.5 million over three years, the Foundation is supporting innovative ideas and scaling up programs that will help nurses realize their full potential—giving them the tools, resources, and power to improve their profession and health care for generations to come. Click here for more information about the Reimagining Nursing Initiative and to learn more about all funded projects.