DNP Clinical Projects: Assigned or Self-Guided
Q: Is it common practice for a DNP program to assign students to sites and projects, or do most allow students to explore their own passions and interests?
A: This is an institution-specific issue. Some DNP programs work in partnership with a healthcare system to address clinical questions or quality issues that have been identified. Students are assigned to work on various projects, researching and coming up with evidence-based recommendations or actually implementing and evaluating change. The focus of the DNP program is translational science, rather than research. Students should not be assigned to help with research projects, but it may be reasonable to have them assist with evidence-based practice or quality improvement activities.
I think this brings up a good point for the nurse who is investigating various DNP programs of study. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to effect change in my clinical practice and examine all the aspects of organizational readiness that impact an evidence-based practice project. If I had other priorities in completing my DNP degree, I may have searched for a program that would make it very clear cut, assigning me to a project and including an implementation phase versus making recommendations. The obstacles that one meets with a full capstone can impede the process and delay graduation!
Editor's note: The DNP Answers blog addresses your questions about the DNP. This post is contributed 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.