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The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)  is embarking on an initiative focused on building leadership capacity in new nurses with a special emphasis on developing essential skills in resilience, self-care, and well-being. The two-year project, titled A Competency-Based Approach to Leadership Development and Resilience for Student Nurses, was launched with funding from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation in partnership with the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation.

“As we move beyond the pandemic and consider the future of health care, we arrive at a pivotal time in nursing when new ideas and energy are driving us toward a new way of preparing nurses for contemporary practice,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “We applaud Johnson & Johnson for helping us develop the next generation of nurse leaders with the skills needed to adapt work environments to prioritize self-care, healthy behaviors, and well-being.”

A New Standard for Nursing Education

AACN President Deborah Trautman, PhD, RN, FAAN.In April 2021, member schools affiliated with AACN voted to endorse The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education, which outlines a new model and framework for professional nursing education using a competency-based approach. Moving to implement the new Essentials presents a unique opportunity for schools of nursing to infuse innovation into nursing curriculum to better prepare nurses to thrive across practice settings. The new standards call for preparing nurses with specific competencies related to leadership development, professionalism, emotional intelligence, and developing wellness and resilience for themselves and others.

Through this new initiative, AACN will convene an expert advisory group to develop new learning strategies and assessment measures related to personal, professional, and leadership development, including activities and self-reflection that foster health, resilience, and well-being. Once developed, AACN will pilot test the new content at 10 schools of nursing, assess the impact on student competency, disseminate results to all nursing schools, and offer faculty development opportunities to assist with new content integration into curriculum.

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“Academic nursing leaders recognize that developing leadership and resilience capacity among new nurses is essential to effective nursing practice,” said Dr. Trautman. “We are excited to have this opportunity to elevate nursing’s role in leading innovation while sustaining provider well-being and impact.”

Expert Advisory Group Formed

To guide this new initiative, AACN has convened an expert group of nurse faculty and content specialists to develop new curriculum and learning strategies for building competencies essential to leadership and fostering resilience, wellness, and self-care. This work entails designing innovative clinical learning experiences where students can practice these new skills. Outcomes will include the identification of effective learning assessment measures consistent with the competency-based approach to learning advanced in the new Essentials. Members of this expert group include:

Michael Ackerman, DNS, RN, FCCM, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing and Director of Master of Healthcare Innovation Program
The Ohio State University College of Nursing

Adejoke Bolanle Ayoola, PhD, RN, FAAN
Department Chair and Professor
Calvin University

Sherry S. Chesak, PhD, MS, RN
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Mayo Clinic

Janie Heath, PhD, APRN-BC, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN
Dean and Warwick Professor of Nursing
University of Kentucky College of Nursing

Teri Pipe, PhD, RN
Professor and Dean Emerita
Founding Director, ASU Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience
Edson  College of Nursing and Health Innovation
Arizona State University

Allison P. Squires, PhD, RN, FAAN
Associate Professor and Director, Florence S. Downs PhD Program in Nursing Research and Theory Development
New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing

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Deborah Stamps, EdD, MBA, MS, RN, GNP, NE-BC
Executive Vice President Chief Nursing Education and Diversity Officer
Rochester Regional Health

Cheryl Woods Giscombe, PhD, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
LeVine Family Distinguished Scholar of Quality of Life, Health Promotion, and Wellness and Associate Dean, PhD Division & Program
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing

AACN will provide regular updates on this initiative to the academic nursing community as the work moves forward. For more information, please contact Kathy McGuinn, AACN’s Director of Interprofessional Education and Practice Partnerships, at [email protected].

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