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AACN Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing

This paper explores the nine AACN MSN essentials of master’s education in nursing. Check it out if you need to analyze MSN essentials.

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The rapid advancements in the development and the delivery of health care require the sphere of education to account for the quick changes in order to improve health outcomes among patients. To give baccalaureate degree nurses a guideline to follow in pursuing their masters’ degrees, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) developed nine essentials that directly affect the quality of the clinical practice in a healthcare setting. This paper will focus on outlining these essentials, explaining their importance and interpretation, as well as briefly discussing the rationale for their development.


The fast pace of the developments in modern healthcare, as well as the increased demands of patients that expect to receive high-quality services, underlines the current need for educating nursing professionals that will be prepared to meet the rising demands. Therefore, the changes in the provision of healthcare as well as in the implementation of the nursing practice require changes in the concepts and traditions of master’s education. A master’s degree in nursing should teach graduates to lead change for the improvement of outcomes, transfer evidence into practice, participate in the design of innovative practice, design collaborative teams, as well as navigate healthcare services across the systems (AACN, 2011).

Nine Essentials of Master’s Education In Nursing

To accomplish the aims and objectives mentioned in the introduction, the AACN outlined nine key essentials, which describe skills and knowledge that all graduates of a nursing program must acquire. The nine essentials were developed to guide graduates in their preparation for a diverse array of medical practices in different settings; they include:

  • Essential I. Background for Practice from Sciences and Humanities (AACN, 2011). This essentially implies that a nurse with a master’s degree in nursing will use the acquired knowledge concerning scientific findings, quality improvement, public health, and other areas for the continuous advancements in nursing care in a variety of different settings (Hughes, 2008).
  • Essential II. Organizational and Systems Leadership, which underlines the importance of systems and organizational leadership in promoting high-quality and effective care for patients. A nurse should possess leadership skills for emphasizing decision-making as well as the facilitation of respectful relationships between workers.
  • Essential III. Safety and Quality Improvement. This essentially implies that a master in nursing possesses enough knowledge of performance measures, standards, methods, and tools associated with the quality of care. Moreover, the graduate should be skilled enough in order to apply such knowledge to practice (AACN, 2011).
  • Essential IV. Translation and Integration of Scholarship Into Practice, which is associated with applying the research outcomes of the course within the setting of their practice, resolving arising issues, as well as disseminating results.
  • Essential V. Healthcare Technologies and Informatics. This essential acknowledge the usage of patient care technologies for delivering and enhancing health care as well as the usage of communication technologies for managing and coordinating care (AACN, 2011).
  • Essential VI. Health Policy and Advocacy, which underlines the importance of intervening at the system level via the process of policy development and employing strategies of advocacy for influencing healthcare outcomes.
  • Essential VII. Interprofessional Collaboration Targeted at Improving Health Outcomes of Patients and the Population. This essentially implies that a nurse with a master’s degree is a member or a leader of an interprofessional team in which he or she collaborates and consults with healthcare professionals for improving the quality of care.
  • Essential VIII. Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving Health (AACN, 2011). This essential is associated with applying and integrating client-centered and culturally appropriate approaches for planning, delivering, and managing the evidence-based clinical prevention efforts and care services for the population.
  • Essential IX. Master’s-Level Nursing Practice. The last essential of master’s degree education implies that the practice of a nurse is defined broadly as any type of a nursing intervention targeted at positively influencing the health outcomes for patients. Furthermore, a master’s level graduate nurse should understand the importance of incorporating the relevant sciences into the practices.

Concluding Remarks

The rationale for the outlined essentials is quite vast and incorporates a range of components. Nurses prepared at the master’s degrees build new knowledge and skills on the already acquired knowledge from a baccalaureate-level nursing program in order to get a deeper understanding of nursing-related sciences. To be more effective in their practice, a graduate-level nurse should be ready to demonstrate his or her leadership skills by establishing effective work relationships with other nurses as well as supporting collaboration within interprofessional teams (Bridges, Davidson, & Tomkowiak, 2011). Such collaboration can also support quality improvements in a health care setting to ensure that patients are satisfied with the services they received in the facility. Overall, the list of the essentials provided in the paper gives a profound understanding of what a professional nurse is expected to do in his or her career to improve patient outcomes as well as the quality of care in a healthcare setting. By interpreting the essentials and implementing them into the clinical practice, a nurse will be successful in leading or in participating in an interdisciplinary team that is striving towards advancing the current state of health care.


AACN. (2011). The essentials of master’s education in nursing. Web.

Bridges, D., Davidson, R., & Tomkowiak, J. (2011). Interprofessional collaboration: three best practice models of interprofessional education. Medical Education Online, 16, 1-27.

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Hughes, R. (2008). Tools and strategies for quality improvement and patient safety. Web.

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