Master’s Education Essentials in Nursing


The paper examines the foundations of Master’s education in nursing developed by The American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Guidelines provide an overview of nine building blocks that constitute the educational framework. The essay dwells on professional skills and competences acquired by nurses that are further employed in clinical practice. It underscores how nine critical components prepare caregivers to address the needs of the healthcare system. Students master the art of personalized and evidence-based care delivery. They are trained to be motivated leaders that manage interprofessional teams and maintain a supportive environment.

The U.S. healthcare system emphasizes the need to develop solutions for preventive care which requires nurses to gain first-hand knowledge. The Master degree in nursing prepares individuals to deal with direct patient care or exercise non-clinical roles. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has mobilized resources to introduce the Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing. The paper explores nine essentials in details, as well as the way they affect clinical practice. These essentials are critical components of degree plans that help future nurses address changing healthcare needs.

Essential I: Background for Practice from Sciences and Humanities

All master’s degrees rely on core essentials to build curricular elements and general design framework. The document stresses that master’s education prepare graduates to “design innovative nursing practices, and translate evidence into practice.” (Warner, 2011, p. 17). The first essential underlines that nurses at the master level continue to expand competencies acquired in baccalaureate programs. They apply theoretical and practical knowledge from “biopsychosocial fields, genetics, public health, health economics, and organizational sciences.” (AACN, 2011, p. 4). Therefore, in clinical practice, nursing professionals know how to design individual care programs and determine necessary interventions.

Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership

The second essential prioritizes the development of leadership skills to maintain relationships in the workplace. Graduates are equipped with a unique set of interpersonal communication competencies to collaborate and consult with other healthcare providers. Moreover, nursing students need to grasp aspects of budgeting, supply chain management and marketing tools. Hence, in real-life settings, they can assess the efficiency of healthcare delivery systems and ensure patient safety through communication.

Essential III: Quality Improvement and Safety

Improving patient safety is fundamental to safeguard the high level of care quality. Future nursing professionals learn how to identify potential failures and create strategies to eliminate hazardous situations. Furthermore, master’s-level students must demonstrate analytical skills that help sustain an environment where personnel feel safe to disclose errors. Consequently, nursing professionals establish community free of subjective judgment, where everybody is engaged in a fair peer review. They are also able to keep track of initiatives and regulations that concern national patient safety standards.

Essential IV: Translating and Integrating Scholarship into Practice

The key task of nurses is to determine whether there are gaps with the lack of evidence. This essential of the master’s degree equips students with knowledge acquisition and dissemination skills (AACN, 2011). Graduates explore the translational process be collecting evidence, evaluating clinical cases and the latest research results on a specific issue. This core competent of integrating scholarship into practice impacts ethical conduct of practical research. Nurses collaborate with other professional caregivers to protect the confidentiality of patients involved in scientific experiments.

Essential VInformatics and Healthcare Technologies

Information technologies have penetrated almost every sphere of life, opening up opportunities and challenges. According to the AACN, the field of informatics includes patient care technologies, communication technologies, data management, health information management, and electronic health records (AACN, 2011). The rapid expansion of IT systems requires students to broaden their knowledge to apply up-to-date technologies to deliver care in various settings. Therefore, in clinical practice, nurses become information managers and educators that promote health literacy among colleagues and patient

Essential VI: Health Policy and Advocacy

Legal and political factors shape the national healthcare system, thus, pushing nurses to be politically active. Since they possess professional knowledge and understand the needs of patients, they can contribute to the advancement of health outcomes of the population. Master’s-level nurses have to establish links with various stakeholders to influence healthcare policies and initiatives. During training, they analyze regulatory mechanisms in order to participate in the implementation of local and state policies. As a result, they become advocates for equal access to healthcare services by sharing their experience with policy-makers.

Essential VII: Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and

Population Health Outcomes

Nurses are members of big interdisciplinary teams, where medical professionals cooperate to reach the set goals. In addition, graduates need to pay special attention to finding out the value and preferences of patients. This cultural sensibility will allow them to reduce barriers and guide professional teams in any environment. In the clinical setting, this essential ensures the leading role of nurses and their potential to coach and mentor inexperienced care providers.

Essential VIII: Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving Health

Clinical prevention tackles the problem of health disparities present in low-income communities. It is estimated that unhealthy lifestyles account for over 50 percent of preventable deaths in the U.S (AACN, 2011, p. 24). In this case, healthcare professionals, especially nurses, have skills and competencies to prevent diseases and improve health outcomes. Master’s degree program serves as a platform to apply principles of genetics and epidemiologic data to develop strategies for preventive care.

Essential IX: Master’s-Level Nursing Practice

Nursing practice implies any kind of nursing intervention that has a direct impact on an individual’s health outcomes. Master’s-level programs integrate and broaden the essentials of baccalaureate education. Graduate students get prepared for practicing clinical care and utilizing healthcare management skills. An array of concepts such as quality improvement, patient safety and negotiation strategies have to be integrated into the study curriculum. Hence, nursing professionals rely on evidence-based knowledge to design, coordinate and assess care delivery.

The AACN has created essentials as mentioned above to provide nurses with continuous academic progression. The preparation for the clinical practice is built on core disciplines and focuses on interdisciplinary content (Harper, 2011). Nurses that obtain knowledge and skills outlined in guidelines are more flexible to adapt to new roles and requirements. The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing assists universities in creating a comprehensive and versatile educational program. The goal of the AACN report is to strengthen educational programs in the field of nursing and respond to global health challenges.


  1. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2011). The essentials of master’s education in nursing. Web.
  2. Harper, D. (2011). Innovative ways to design the graduate curriculum [PDF document]. Web.
  3. Warner, J. (2011). Master’s essentials task force dialogue [PDF document]. Web.

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