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Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice and Faculty Tool Kit

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The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education
for Professional Nursing Practice

Download Free PDF Version

The 2008 publication that defines the essential elements of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice is now available from AACN. The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice provides an important framework for designing and assessing baccalaureate education programs for professional nursing practice. This publication is the result of a consensus-building process that included nursing educators, clinicians, executives, and researchers, as well as numerous nursing organizations.

In the Baccalaureate Essentials, you will find…

  • The role of the baccalaureate-prepared nurse
  • Professional values for baccalaureate nursing education
  • An outline of essential curriculum contents
  • Baccalaureate core competencies and knowledge
  • Suggested teaching strategies

…And much more!

Faculty Tool Kit

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Order Printed Copies

Additional Baccalaureate Essentials Tool Kit Materials

The purpose of the Baccalaureate Essentials Tool Kit is to provide resources and exemplars to assist faculty with the implementation of the Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice (2008). The tool kit provides integrative learning strategies, opportunities for program enhancement, and resources that will assist faculty with the integration of the Baccalaureate Essentials throughout the nursing curriculum. This tool kit includes a review of the nine Baccalaureate Essentials followed by Integrative Learning Strategies, Opportunities for Program Enhancement, Web Links, AACN Presentations, and References.

How to Order

Copies of The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice are available for $12 each (AACN members), $15 (nonmembers), plus shipping. Bulk rates are also available - please inquire at info@aacn.nche.edu. Copies of the Faculty Tool Kit is available for $5 each. To order, visit www.aacn.nche.edu/publications/order-publications.


First released by AACN in 1986 and then revised in 1998 and 2008, The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice is a comprehensive set of core standards for baccalaureate-degree nursing education programs. This publication, which provides a central framework for designing baccalaureate nursing programs, was the first national effort to define the fundamental knowledge, values, and professional behaviors expected of the bachelor's-degree nursing graduate.

Endorsed by AACN member institutions in October 2008, the latest version of the Essentials applies to all types of baccalaureate programs that prepare professional generalist nurses, including RN to Baccalaureate degree completion, accelerated second-degree, and traditional programs. Program curricula are designed to prepare students to meet the end-of program outcomes. Additionally these guidelines assist faculty to evaluate graduates who are expected to achieve these essential outcomes. The Baccalaureate Essentials details standards for preparing bachelor's-degree nurses to assume roles as care providers; as designers, managers, and coordinators of care; and as members of a profession. Within these roles, the document provides specific standards for educational components that are essential for all baccalaureate nursing programs, including liberal education, professional values, core knowledge, and role development.

In the document, each of the nine Essentials is operationalized through the program’s curriculum and is not intended to represent a course. Each Essential is followed by a rationale explaining its relevance for the education of the professional. The rationale for an Essential is followed by outcomes that delineate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes expected of new baccalaureate generalist graduates. These outcomes serve as a guide to help faculty identify program and course objectives that are specific and measurable. Next, sample content is listed to aid faculty in selecting material suited to achieving the specific Essential. The list of content is not inclusive, nor is it intended as required. A vast selection of content is available for each Essential, and the specific baccalaureate program’s curriculum will specify the content as appropriate to their mission, community served, and student population. The Essential outcomes can be obtained through a variety of content approaches, and potential content can and will evolve over time as new knowledge develops. The sample content is offered as a guide to new programs or to further elucidate the nature of the Essential with which the content is listed.