Curriculum Standards: Using a national consensus-based process, AACN has led the development of The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education that outline competency expectations for graduates of baccalaureate, master’s, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. Schools use this document to ensure that they adhere to the highest standards for their educational programs and meet accreditation guidelines. AACN also has published a position statement on research-focused doctoral programs, a white paper on the Clinical Nurse Leader, and guidelines defining the essential clinical resources for nursing education, research, and faculty practice.
Health Policy Advocacy: In government relations and other advocacy, AACN works to advance public policy on nursing education, research, and practice. AACN is a leader in securing sustained federal support for nursing education and research; shaping legislative and regulatory policy affecting nursing schools; and ensuring continuing financial assistance for nursing students.
Research and Data Services: Each year, AACN surveys all baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs as part of its work to maintain the Institutional Data System, a comprehensive databank reporting current statistics on student enrollments and graduations, faculty salaries and demographics, institutional resources, and other trends in nursing education. Several annual reports assist schools in benchmarking efforts and making policy decisions.
Conferences and Webinars: Dean and faculty development is a high priority for AACN as evidenced by the many national meetings, conferences, and webinars sponsored every year. The semiannual meetings in Washington, DC advance the business of the association and enable deans to address emerging issues. Faculty and staff development is accomplished by a number of conferences geared toward educators teaching in baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs as well as those engaged in faculty practice. AACN also offers a free webinar series exclusively for nurse educators teaching in baccalaureate and higher degree programs.
Leadership Development: Leadership development has been a cornerstone of AACN’s programs and services since the association’s inception more than 50 years ago. To ensure that all AACN members have access to leadership enrichment experiences tailored to their needs, AACN has launched AACN LEADS. Designed to provide a variety of learning opportunities at all career levels along the leadership continuum, AACN LEADS introduces a portfolio of programs and conferences for new, early career, and experienced deans, associate deans, program directors, and faculty.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: AACN is a primary advocate for advancing diversity and inclusion within academic nursing. AACN’s position statement on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Academic Nursing reflects the core interests of AACN Membership. To further explore innovative approaches to enhance diversity, AACN has convened the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Network, compromised of AACN faculty members that unite expertise, experience, and guidance for academic nursing. Other ongoing projects include the Diversity Leadership Institute, DEI Faculty Tool Kit, Holistic Admissions Tool Kit, and workshops. These resources assist colleges and universities to employ a holistic admission process to assemble a diverse class of students with the background, qualities, and skills needed for success in the profession.
Special Projects: AACN actively seeks grant-funding to launch initiatives of special interest to nurse educators at member schools. These projects are currently focused on end-of-life nursing care, transitioning to competency-based education, and create a culture of belonging in schools of nursing. AACN is working to advance the integration of the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) role into the healthcare delivery system while promoting the benefits of CNL certification. Other ongoing projects include advancing the adoption of nurse residency programs, facilitating the transition to the Doctor of Nursing Practice, and promoting support for the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation. For students, AACN launched the Graduate Nursing Student Academy to provide free webinars and resources to those enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs and operates NursingCAS, the centralized application service for prospective nursing students.
Accreditation: An autonomous arm of AACN, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate and graduate education programs preparing effective nurses. Officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, CCNE serves the public interest by assessing and identifying programs that engage in effective educational practices. CCNE is the nation’s leading accrediting agency for baccalaureate, master’s, DNP programs, as well as, post-baccalaureate nurse residency and post-graduate APRN certificates at schools of nursing.
Certification: The Clinical Nurse Leader Certification Program is managed by the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC), an autonomous arm of AACN, and governed by the CNC Board of Commissioners. CNC recognizes individuals who have demonstrated professional standards and knowledge through CNL certification. CNC promotes lifelong learning through CNL recertification.