The DNP Capstone
Here at the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the DNP and answer them as best we can. This post is written by blogger Mai Kung, NP, a recent DNP graduate.
Q: What is a capstone project, and what would be an example of one?
A: A final DNP project is often referred to as a “capstone” project. It is a final project that demonstrates synthesis and mastery of an advanced specialty within nursing practice by a student. The emphasis of the DNP education is on translating research into practice, applying research in decision-making, and implementing viable clinical innovations to change practice. Therefore, the DNP final project’s focus is more on evidence-based practice as compared to a dissertation, which is a research-based project. The aim of a DNP project is to improve practice and/or patient outcome; furthermore, it serves to lay the groundwork for future scholarship.
According to the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice, “One example of the final DNP product might be a practice portfolio that includes the impact or outcomes due to practice and documents the final practice synthesis and scholarship. Another example of a final DNP product is a practice change initiative. This may be represented by a pilot study, a program evaluation, a quality improvement project, an evaluation of a new practice model, a consulting project, or an integrated critical literature review. Additional examples of a DNP final product could include manuscripts submitted for publication, systemic review, research utilization project, practice topic dissemination, substantive involvement in a larger endeavor, or other practice project.” (October 2006, available at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/dnp/pdf/essentials.pdf, p.20)
Choosing a topic for a DNP project is often stressful for a student; however, in reality options for capstone projects are endless. When choosing a topic for a DNP project, the student can be creative by utilizing evidence-based process by:
- Formulating a well developed question;
- Identifying evidence based resources to answer the question(integrated systematic review of literature);
- Assessing validity of the resources using evidence;
- Applying the evidence;
- Re-evaluating the application and identify areas for improvement (available at: http://www.biomed.lib.umn.edu/learn/ebp/mod01/index.html).
These projects need to be individualized to the students’ areas of interest/specialty/expertise and projects should demonstrate assimilation of knowledge at a doctoral level. Here are some specific examples of DNP projects from my program:
- A change project to increase the uptake of influenza vaccination in healthcare personnel at a college health practice setting. Barriers and facilitators to influenza vaccination were identified by using a preintervention questionnaire survey. Interventions were planned based on findings of the preintervention survey, then implemented. The effectiveness of these interventions was assessed by utilizing a postintervention survey.
- A quality improvement project to improve appropriate handling of hand trauma to avoid delay of care. Over 2000 consults and notes from ER/urgent care departments were reviewed to assess adherence to guidelines for handling/referral of hand traumas. Factors associated with lack of adherence to treatment guidelines were identified, interventions were implemented and outcomes were assessed.
- An assessment of client and provider satisfaction levels related to the use of electronic health records. One goal was to obtain client and provider preferences for specific services of an internet web portal for future electronic communication in a pediatric primary care practice.
- A review of the history of Florida Nurses’ Association to describe the impact of professional association advocacy efforts for the past 100 years.
- A project that was part of a community effort in planning, organizing and implementing a clinic designed to provide health care for indigent, low-income and uninsured residents of a Florida county.
- Identification of perceived barriers to prenatal care for women in a county that ranked at the bottom of all Florida counties for women obtaining prenatal care within the first trimester.
Doctors of Nursing Practice, LLC also has project ideas at http://www.doctorsofnursingpractice.org/studentprojects.php.
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