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Competency-Based Education for Practice-Ready Nurses

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This project accelerates the movement to a new model of nursing education by supporting innovative approaches to competency development and skills assessment for nurses


Great variability exists among nursing education programs designed to prepare registered nurses for professional practice. Employers, prospective students, patients, and health care team members do not always recognize the unique contribution nurses make. Moving to a competency-based model will help to clarify nursing’s essential role in care delivery, strengthen their professional identity, and elevate the practice readiness of new nurses entering the workforce.

What we are doing

Only through bold, deconstructive processes can academic nursing prepare graduates to provide high-quality, equitable health care. AACN’s new model, The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education, outlines the necessary clinical experiences and expected competencies of graduates from baccalaureate and higher degree programs. AACN will pilot new curriculum and clinical experiences developed using the Essentials framework at 10 nursing schools across the U.S. Schools will implement population health competencies that support nurses in addressing social determinants of health and inequities in health care delivery. Each school will also select a second domain to implement to further test the new model. Lessons will be disseminated broadly to accelerate the transition to competency-based education in all nursing schools.

Dr. Deborah Trautman President and CEO, AACN
The bold decision to move toward a competency-based approach to 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. Accelerating the uptake of competency-based education is critical to reimagining the role of nursing for the future of health care delivery.


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