Nurturing Nursing Excellence: Embracing the AACN Essentials


The AACN Essentials outline the foundational competencies necessary for a baccalaureate-prepared nurse. This paper will delve into each essential, supplemented with scholarly sources and personal examples, to illustrate the author’s evolution as a nursing student.


Each AACN Essential will be introduced with a brief summary explanation, supported by a scholarly source. The author will then provide a specific example of how they met the essential during their nursing program, drawing from Nursing Evolution assignments, didactic learning, skills lab experiences, and clinical rotations.

AACN Essential I: Liberal Education for Baccalaureate Generalist Nursing Practice

Essential I highlights the importance of a comprehensive education, fostering critical thinking, communication, and cultural competence among nursing graduates (AACN, 2021).

Explanation: A liberal education enhances the ability to critically analyze and communicate effectively in nursing practice (AACN, 2021).

Example: Through a Nursing Evolution assignment, the author explored cultural competence, recognizing its significance in patient care (Smith et al., 2019). This understanding was further applied during clinical rotations, where the author encountered patients from diverse backgrounds and adapted their communication and care approaches accordingly.

AACN Essential II: Basic Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Care and Patient Safety

Essential II underscores nursing graduates’ comprehension of healthcare systems, quality care advocacy, and patient safety enhancement (AACN, 2021).

Explanation: Competence in organizational and systems leadership is fundamental to patient safety and quality care (AACN, 2021).

Example: Engaging in a skills lab simulation on patient handoffs, the author recognized the importance of effective communication in preventing errors (Jones & Miller, 2018). During clinical rotations, the author actively participated in patient handoffs, applying principles of clear communication to ensure continuity of care and patient safety.

AACN Essential III: Scholarship for Evidence-Based Practice

Essential III emphasizes the integration of research and evidence-based practice to enhance nursing care and patient outcomes (AACN, 2021).

Explanation: Incorporating research and evidence enhances the quality of nursing care and contributes to improved patient outcomes (AACN, 2021).

Example: Through a Nursing Evolution assignment focused on evidence-based practice, I critically analyzed a study on pain management strategies for postoperative patients (Brown et al., 2020). Applying this knowledge during clinical rotations, I collaborated with the interdisciplinary team to implement evidence-based pain management interventions, leading to better patient comfort and recovery.

AACN Essential IV: Information Management and Application of Patient Care Technology

Essential IV emphasizes technological proficiency for safe and effective patient care, including using electronic health record (EHR) systems and other technologies (AACN, 2021).

Explanation: Technological competence is crucial in modern nursing practice, supporting efficient and safe patient care (AACN, 2021).

Example: During clinical rotations, I utilized EHR systems to access patient information, identify potential drug interactions, and collaborate with the healthcare team to prevent adverse events. This experience underscored the importance of technology in informed clinical decision-making and care coordination (Miller et al., 2022). Additionally, in a Nursing Evolution assignment, I explored the implications of telehealth on nursing practice, demonstrating an understanding of technology’s evolving role.

AACN Essential V: Healthcare Policy, Finance, and Regulatory Environments

Essential V highlights the significance of understanding healthcare policies, regulations, and financial aspects to advocate for patient rights and effective care delivery (AACN, 2021).

Explanation: Proficiency in healthcare policy and finance empowers nurses to advocate for patients and contribute to resource-efficient care (AACN, 2021).

Example: A didactic session on healthcare policies deepened my comprehension of the Affordable Care Act’s influence on access and reimbursement. During a clinical rotation in an underserved community clinic, I witnessed the impact of policy changes on patients’ healthcare access. This experience fueled my commitment to addressing health disparities and advocating for equitable access in healthcare (Thompson & McGillis Hall, 2019). Furthermore, a Nursing Evolution assignment focused on healthcare ethics allowed me to explore ethical considerations in healthcare policy decision-making.

AACN Essential VI: Interprofessional Communication and Collaboration for Improving Patient Health Outcomes

Essential VI emphasizes effective communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals to enhance patient outcomes (AACN, 2021).

Explanation: Collaborative teamwork is essential for optimal patient care and outcomes (AACN, 2021).

Example: Engaging in a skills lab simulation, I played a pivotal role in a multi-disciplinary team managing a complex patient case. By communicating clearly and respecting diverse perspectives, we achieved successful patient outcomes (Riley et al., 2018). This skill was reinforced during clinical rotations, where I actively participated in interprofessional rounds, contributing insights to care plans that enhanced patient health outcomes.

Conclusion: The author’s nursing journey, as illuminated through the exploration of each AACN Essential, reflects a comprehensive growth in nursing knowledge, skills, and values. By integrating evidence from Nursing Evolution assignments, didactic learning, skills lab exercises, and clinical experiences, the author is well-equipped to transition into the realm of professional nursing practice.


AACN. (2021). The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education. American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Jones, P., & Miller, G. (2018). Interprofessional communication in healthcare: An integrative review. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 32(2), 147-155.

Smith, L., Johnson, M., & Martinez, E. (2019). Cultural competence in nursing practice: A comprehensive review. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 26(3), 91-98.

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