Considering a Team Capstone Project
Q: I am considering doing a DNP project jointly with a few other DNP students. What might be the benefits or drawbacks of doing this project as a team?
A: There are both … benefits and drawbacks to completing the capstone (the DNP project is generally referred to as your capstone) as a team effort. Most importantly, the capstone is supposed to reflect the culmination of your learning in the program; a demonstration of your ability to form a clinical question, search and rate the available literature in terms of quality and applicability to your setting, and to consider all of the factors that will affect successful adoption and sustainability of evidence-based changes in the practice setting. It’s a huge undertaking, and requires an enormous amount of work. Looking back, I am glad that I moved through that process on my own. I tripped many times along the way, but that experience was invaluable and makes me feel confident that I can apply those skills to future projects.
In the real world, we do not approach such projects independently or in isolation. So, it is realistic to consider doing the capstone with a group of colleagues if that is permissible in the program you are attending. I think it would be vital that, in assigning tasks to the individual members, all students involved were held accountable for something in each stage of the process. For example, search engines could be divided up, but the group should discuss how a search was conducted with each. Literature reviews should be completed by each member and the studies rated for quality, with a group comparison and one member doing the writeup. Everyone should be involved in the selection of appropriate statistical analyses and project design. It may involve duplication of work, but unless all are involved, the purpose of the capstone is defeated.
Choose something small and manageable; do not try to change the world with your first project. You can do that later!
Editor's note: Here at the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the DNP and answer them as best we can. This question is answered by blogger Meg Carman, DNP, ACNP-BC, CEN, who serves on faculty in the ABSN program at the Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, N.C. She also practices with Wake Emergency Physicians in Raleigh. Comment below to discuss this topic, or send new questions to email@example.com.