AACN Statement on Faculty Preparation and the 2021 Essentials

AACN recognizes that faculty prepared at the master’s and doctoral levels are needed to meet the growing demand for nurse educators. In its 2017 position statement on The Preferred Vision of the Professoriate in Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Programs, AACN states: “the minimal expectation for clinical instruction, coordination, and mentoring of preceptors is having obtained clinically focused graduate preparation and maintenance of currency in practice.” AACN will continue to support the advancement of all nurse faculty while celebrating their singular contributions to advancing health and health care.

With the endorsement of the 2021 Essentials, AACN re-affirms that nurses who wish to serve as faculty must have advanced education in the discipline of nursing. Additional preparation in the educator role and pedagogy, through a variety of means, is recommended. Expectations for advanced preparation in the discipline are consistent across the health professions and in other fields. AACN recognizes that many students entering master’s programs possess an array of clinical experiences, which enhances their future role as nurse educators. We also believe that experience alone is insufficient to convey mastery in an area of clinical practice.

Programs that prepare nurse faculty with the Level 2 competencies and sub-competencies within an area of advanced nursing practice and with content to develop strong pedagogical skills would meet the expectations outlined in the 2021 Essentials.

Moving toward competency-based education provides a dynamic opportunity for academic nursing to rethink how best to prepare nurses for the vital and essential role of educator. Curriculum designers are encouraged to be innovative in their approach to preparing master’s or doctoral level faculty. For example, coursework offered to prepare nurse educators may be completed in addition to a clinically focused graduate program or as electives within a degree program. Certification of master’s and doctoral prepared nurse faculty also would be appropriate. Other approaches are possible, such as a badge or micro-credential demonstrating preparation for a teaching role.

Fully embracing the model for nursing education outlined in the 2021 Essentials will require creativity, ingenuity, and engagement. AACN looks forward to working with all member schools to advance innovative approaches to preparing faculty, which are needed to strengthen the nation’s supply of nurse educators.


July 2022