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Nurse-led Project is Changing how Students Learn

Getting nurses to stay in the professions begins with educating them to succeed. Nursing schools understand the importance of making sure graduating nurses develop and master transferable skills they can apply in the real world.

“Changing how we educate nurses and assess their learning, while engaging practice partners more deeply in this process, is the key to preparing more practice-ready nurses,” said American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) President and Chief Executive Officer Deborah Trautman, PhD, RN, FAAN.

Traditional nursing education often focuses on delivering the knowledge nurses need to practice, but less attention is paid to some of the skills and competencies they need to perform their jobs with confidence.

With funding from the Reimagining Nursing Initiative, AACN’s project Competency-Based Education for Practice-Ready Nurses will allow nursing schools to more rapidly adopt their programs to meet AACN’s new competency expectations for nursing graduates.

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This innovative approach is based on AACN’s The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education, which acknowledges the different ways students learn and demonstrate proficiency and evaluates what they have learned through individualized skills assessments.

AACN put out a call to schools around the country and received nearly a hundred applications. From these applicants they selected the following 10 schools:

• Creighton University – Nebraska
• Fairfield University – Connecticut
• Johns Hopkins University – Maryland
• Russell Sage College – New York
• Samuel Merritt University – California
• Texas State University - Texas
• University of Southern Mississippi – Mississippi
• University of Texas-Arlington – Texas
• Walla Walla University – Washington
• Wright State University – Ohio

Not only will the pilot schools change how they teach and test, but they will also focus on curriculum that will better prepare nursing students in improving health outcomes for groups of people instead of one-person at a time.

“More attention needs to be placed on population health and preparing nurses, so they really see this as part of their role across the continuum of care,” said Joan M. Stanley, PhD, NP, FAAN, FAANP, AACN’s Chief Academic Officer. “Not just in the community but wherever they are practicing.”

Through public health education, future nurses will play a critical role in developing and implementing policies that impact population health globally and locally. To achieve this, the selected schools needed to be geographically and institutionally diverse. Special consideration was given to schools that identified equity as a core guiding principle and serve under-represented and rural populations.

Selected schools will receive $100,000 in funding to support curriculum redesign efforts and technical assistance from AACN through March 2025.

Reimagining the future of nursing education

AACN will track each school’s progress so that other schools across the country can learn from the pilot schools’ experiences and replicate at their institutions. This will expose more nursing students to AACN’s competency-based approach.

“Nursing students need to graduate with the skills to work in diverse and complex settings. Therefore, their learning and clinical opportunities need to be innovative, dynamic, and support them holistically,” said American Nurses Foundation Executive Director Kate Judge.

Is this your first time reading about the Reimagining Nursing Initiative? Click here to learn all about the Initiative, its 10 projects, and how the Initiative is transforming health care by investing in bold ideas developed and led by nurses.



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