Newswise — At the Deans Annual Meeting held earlier this week, transformation in nursing education was a common theme threaded across many conversations. Most agree that the time is right to re-envision our approach for preparing practice-ready nurses with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive across healthcare settings. To achieve this objective, academic nursing leaders are thoughtfully considering how best to adapt their programs to meet the competency standards outlined in the 2021 Essentials, and they are asking all the right questions: what needs to change, are we ready, and how can we succeed? 

To help schools find the answers to these questions, AACN is working to provide guidance, resources, and information needed to facilitate decision-making and help programs move forward at a comfortable pace. We are fortunate to have a committed group of experts from academia and practice serving on the Essentials Implementation Steering Committee and on working groups focused on assessment, technology, and practice-readiness. These volunteer leaders are helping to discern the most pressing needs related to curricular innovation and the transition to competency-based education (CBE) and assessment. New resources developed to support all schools in achieving today’s Essentials include the following:

  • Guiding Principles for Competency-Based Education and Assessment
    Developed by the Essentials Assessment Expert Working Group, this document outlines the key components of CBE, which include identifying outcome competencies; designing curriculum that facilitates sequenced progression; tailoring teaching and learning experiences to the competency and the student; engaging in competency-focused instruction; and conducting programmatic assessment. This resource also delineates the Core Principles for Assessment of Learners in Competency-Based Education in nine areas of CBE assessment, considers implications for implementation, and provides examples of learner assessment.

  • Vision for Sharing Data and Information Across Nursing Education, Practice, and Regulation
    Prepared by the Technology Working Group, this new vision calls for developing an integrated information system - supported by technology, people, and processes – that facilitates the sharing of data and information among schools of nursing, healthcare settings, and regulatory bodies. This new statement delineates criteria for schools to consider when evaluating technologies, including those focused on the implementation of the Essentials, as well as for companies looking to offer solutions.
  • Essentials Talking Points Series
    With expert guidance from the Implementation Steering Committee, AACN has launched a new series of talking point documents targeted at key stakeholder groups. The first in this series, titled What Practice Partners Need to Know About the AACN Essentials, features an overview on CBE and the need for academic-practice partnerships as well as specific opportunities for collaboration. A talking-point document for Development Officers also was created to highlight specific ways to leverage the Essentials to appeal to donors.
  • Conversations on Competency-Based Education
    In addition to videos profiling schools engaged in Essentials implementation, AACN has launched a new Conversations series to spotlight insights from thought leaders at the forefront of CBE. The first video features Dr. Jacquelyn McMillian-Bohler from Duke University who outlines the six elements that distinguish CBE from traditional approaches to teaching and learning. Dr. McMillian-Bohler also addresses the changing role of faculty with a strong emphasis on coaching.

To further support implementation efforts, AACN is leading two grant-funded initiatives – one with Johnson & Johnson and one with the American Nurses Foundation (ANF) – to pilot test curriculum and learning assessment measures that align with the 2021 Essentials.  Our work with the ANF, which is part of the national Reimagining Nursing Initiative – focuses on using CBE to prepare more practice-ready nurse graduates.  In her own words, Dr. Joan Stanley, AACN’s Chief Academic Officer, explains why this work is truly transformational.

AACN remains steadfast in our commitment to partnering with all member schools throughout this time of transformation. Our menu of faculty resources related to Essentials implementation continues to expand, including curriculum mapping tools; in-person, online, and on-demand training opportunities; and a searchable teaching resource database, which matches learning and assessment approaches to the 10 domains of practice. See the Essentials Implementation Tool Kit for more details.

About AACN's Rounds with Leadership

The AACN Rounds with Leadership is a monthly forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

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