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Fall 2020

Essentials of Baccalaureate Education


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) works to establish quality establish quality standards for nursing education; assists schools in implementing those standards; influences the nursing profession to improve health care; and promotes public support for professional nursing education, research, and practice.  To help achieve these goals, AACN has developed the Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice documentation. 

Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for the Professional Nursing Practice

The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education outlines the educational framework for colleges for the preparation of professional nurses.  This apply to all pre-licensure and RN completion programs, whether the degree is Baccalaureate or graduate entry. 

Nine Essentials

  • Essential I: Liberal Education for Baccalaureate Generalist Nursing Practice
    • A solid base in liberal education provides the cornerstone for the practice and education of nurses.
  • Essential II: Basic Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Care and Patient Safety
    • Knowledge and skills in leadership, quality improvement, and patient safety are necessary to provide high quality health care.
  • Essential III: Scholarship for Evidence Based Practice
    • Professional nursing practice is grounded in the translation of current evidence into one’s practice.
  • Essential IV: Information Management and Application of Patient Care Technology
    • Knowledge and skills in information management and patient care technology are critical in the delivery of quality patient care.
  • Essential V: Health Care Policy, Finance, and Regulatory Environments
    • Helathcare policies, including financial and regulatory, directly and indirectly influence the nature and functioning of the healthcare system and thereby are important considerations in professional nursing practice.
  • Essential VI: Interprofessional Communication and Collaboration for Improving Patient Health Outcomes
    • Communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals are critical to delivering high quality and safe patient care.
  • Essential VII: Clinical Prevention and Population Health
    • Helath promotion and disease prevention at the individual and population level are necessary to improve population health and are important components of baccalaureate generalist nursing practice.
  • Essential VIII: Professionalism and Professional Values
    • Professionalism and the inherent values of altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity, and social justice are fundamental to the discipline of nursing
  • Essential IX: Baccalaureate Generalist Nursing Practice
    • The baccalaureate-­graduate nurse is prepared to practice with patients, including individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations across the lifespan and across the continuum of healthcare environments.
    • The baccalaureate graduate understands and respects the variations of care, the increased complexity, and the increased use of healthcare resources inherent in caring for patients.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2008). The essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice. Washington, DC. pg 3-5.