Rounds with Leadership: Integrating Nursing Education and Practice

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

September 28, 2022 - Integrating Nursing Education and Practice

As the work to transition to the 2021 AACN Essentials moves ahead at schools nationwide, we encourage academic nursing leaders to use this opportunity to make new and stronger connections with their partners in practice. AACN was intentional about involving practice leaders in the development of the new competency standards to ensure that nursing education remains in sync with the current and future needs of the healthcare system. Partnerships are forming to rethink clinical learning experiences, identify skills assessment measures, enhance the practice readiness of new graduates, and meet many other shared goals. Click here to see what practice leaders are saying about the Essentials.

AACN has a long history of calling for deeper engagement between education and practice, and we now include practice representatives on our Board of Directors as well as on most of our committees and task forces. Our landmark report on Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing explores how nursing schools can amplify their role in improving health and health care at the local, state, and national levels. One of the report’s principal recommendations is:  Academic nursing should partner to advance new clinical models and promote accountable care. Among the many strategies that may be deployed to meet this goal include creating clinical practice roles for faculty in partnering health systems via shared appointments and inviting faculty and practice leaders to serve on each other’s governing bodies and boards (i.e., the nursing dean serves on the hospital board; the CNO serves on the school’s governing council).

The benefits of engaging more closely with practice partners are many. Partnerships can be used to create systems for nurses to achieve educational and career advancement, prepare nurses for leadership roles, provide mechanisms for lifelong learning, and provide a structure for nurse residency programs and other clinical learning opportunities. Formal partnering arrangements are typically built on mutual goals, respect, and shared knowledge.

For schools looking to establish new connections, AACN has developed a set of Guiding Principles for Academic-Practice Partnerships, which offers practical advice and success strategies. In addition, AACN has created an online resource section to support partnership development, which features an Implementation Tool Kit to inform the development, growth, and evaluation of partnerships; a Partnership Expectation and Outcomes Matrix to assist with goal setting and impact assessment; and dozens of exemplars featuring winners of AACN’s Academic-Practice Partnership Award.

Share Details About Your Partnerships

AACN is looking to showcase successful academic-practice partnerships that have been effective at expanding your program’s reach, addressing the faculty shortage, and meeting community care needs. We are particularly interested in hearing from smaller schools to find out how these programs are structured with the goal of sharing exemplars with your colleagues nationwide. Please send a brief written or video description of your partnership with any related web links to