American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Guide


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) presents educational institutions with a list of critical knowledge and competencies that future nurses should develop and obtain. This includes an integration of different subjects, understanding of organizational functioning and leadership, improvement of quality. Additionally, AACN highlights the need for implementing evidence-based practices and nursing advocacy. Cooperation with other medical professionals and the importance of prevention within health-related practices is also the focus of AACN’s guidelines. The final essential introduced by the organization reflects the fact that nurses with a master’s degree possess a broad scope of knowledge and skills that allow them to impact population health.

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The AACN is an establishment concerned with improving the quality of medical education and implementation of standard practices across the country. This organization developed nine core competencies that each student enrolled in the master of the nursing program should obtain throughout his or her education. This paper aims to provide a brief explanation for each of the essentials and provide a reflection about clinical practice and personal reflection regarding these elements.


Firstly, AACN recognizes the need to integrate knowledge from different fields to ensure cohesiveness of nursing education. The essential titled Background for Practice from Sciences and Humanities aims to incorporate aspects of public health, biopsychology, and other scientific subjects, including those connected to organizational functioning (“The essentials of master’s education in nursing,” 2011). This diversified approach can help one in clinical practice because a nurse will be able to provide advanced healthcare interventions based on evidence and proved methods and impact all aspects of a person’s health.

From a personal perspective, this element aims to ensure that nurses are capable of both developing cohesive health-related interventions to individuals and different populations and continuously improve their knowledge.

Secondly, ACCN outlines the need for understanding organizations and leadership as a core nursing competency. This can help one in practice due to a connection between practices within a specific medical establishment and health outcomes or patient safety. The personal interpretation of this essential is connected to the increasing importance of nurses in clinical practice and a need for these professionals to be able to implement changes for the improvement of medical care strategies.

The third essential is connected to quality improvement and is related to practices within a medical establishment, for instance, performance evaluation measures that have a direct impact on patients. In clinical practice, a nurse can apply this knowledge by developing strategies or tools for improving existing approaches to daily work. From a personal perspective, one can argue that this is critical for ensuring the proper functioning of hospitals and the enhancement of their work.

Next, the fourth essential relates to evidence-based knowledge that can help nurses resolve a variety of issues. In practice, one can use this competency by examining existing researches to find resolutions to specific problems that were proven to be effective by scholars. I think that this allows nurses to improve care and facilitate a patient-centered approach by finding novel solutions to issues. The fifth essential is titled Informatics and Healthcare Technologies (“The essentials of master’s education in nursing,” 2011).

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This principle is especially vital in the modern-day because innovation is affecting all aspects of people’s lives, including healthcare. For instance, medical records and communication with both other medical professionals and patients are transformed by specified software that allows nurses to access information and provide consultations remotely. Thus, it is inevitable for medical personnel to encounter innovational technology in their practice.

A nurse’s ability to develop policy changes and implement them is reflected in the sixth essential developed by AACN. Within one’s clinical practice, this helps medical personnel to examine health issues affecting their patients on a systems level and improve those by advocating for change. My interpretation of this competency is connected to a broader scope of work that a nurse with a master’s degree can do and the impact that he or she can have on the overall health system. Next, Interprofessional Collaboration refers to one’s ability to communicate with others (“The essentials of master’s education in nursing,” 2011).

In clinical practice, this means that a nurse is capable of working in a team and reaching out to physicians to affect a patient’s health. Personal interpretation of this component is connected to both leadership competencies and interpersonal relationships at work that can affect health outcomes.

The eighth essential is connected to the ability of a nurse to both prevent health issues and provide care for particular populations. In clinical practice, this can teach one to care for families or other groups of people. Additionally, this allows one to integrate knowledge about culturally diverse individuals. Thus, this element allows a nurse to be more patient-centered and help people incorporate evidence-based lifestyle changes that can help them avoid health issues.

The final essential provides an assessment of master’s level nursing practices. In essence, this element presents an understanding of the work that nurses with this degree are capable of doing and its impact on individuals. From a personal perspective, I can argue that this competency allows nurses to affect populations and not only individuals by providing them with a sufficient understanding of health policies and standard practices. Additionally, such professionals are capable of facilitating research and developing specialized interventions within their clinical practice.


Overall, the master’s degree essentials developed by AACN provide an outline of critical competencies that each nurse should possess. These elements outline a nurse’s ability to use evidence based-practices, understand organizational structures, and develop policy change strategies. Additionally, AACN recognized the need for interprofessional communication and the power of nurses to impact health on a larger scale by affecting populations, which are critical for clinical practice.


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

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StudyCorgi. "American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Guide." July 16, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Guide." July 16, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Guide'. 16 July.

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