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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Championing the Capstone Experience

Published January 7, 2015 2:37 PM by Guest Blogger

By Agnes Gutowski, MSNc, BSN, and Ryann Nocereto, MSNc, BSN

In recent years, hospital administrators and staff nurses have reported dissatisfaction with the level of preparedness of new graduate nurses. Despite decreased availability of clinical sites, a shortage of faculty members and an increase in student volume, schools of nursing have been given the task of improving the quality of graduating nursing students. 

Schools of nursing have partnered with healthcare organizations to create an immersion program for senior nursing students, coined the “Capstone Experience.”

At our community hospital in Connecticut, Capstone students are accepted from in-state baccalaureate programs. Students choose their top areas of interest and are placed on units with staff nurses who possess a desire to mentor. This provides students with the opportunity to explore various specialties in a structured environment. As experienced nurses, we have noticed that this initiative is innovative and effective in preparing student nurses to enter the workforce. 

The Capstone program pairs students one-on-one with a selected preceptor on any hospital unit. Students become immersed in the role of staff nurse and are coached through performing full assessments, applying ordered interventions, taking part in interdisciplinary collaboration, and communicating using the SBAR technique. Students follow their preceptor once a week for eight hours during the last semester of their senior year. This program serves as preparation for their upcoming graduation and transition into the nursing profession.

At the completion of their Capstone experience, students report feeling an increased level of confidence, improved assessment skills, and a positive career outlook. In addition, hired nurses with Capstone experience have displayed a solid knowledge base and ability to adapt in their role as a patient's primary nurse. In turn, this creates improved retention rates and increased job satisfaction among new hires. Preceptors report a sense of satisfaction watching the student evolve from novice to advanced beginner at the completion of the program.  

Staff members at our hospital have responded positively to graduate nurses with Capstone experience. The program has shown to produce quality nurses who possess an understanding and increased level of comfort related to patient care. 

Fellow nurses should champion Capstone projects in their facilities to bridge the gap between academia and clinicals. With continued use of this immersion program, hospitals can expect to see competent new graduates with a true understanding of the nursing profession.

Agnes Gutowski is staff nurse, PACU, and Capstone preceptor; and Ryann Nocereto is staff nurse, surgical unit and Capstone Clinical Nurse Educator, both at Middlesex Hospital, Middletown, Conn.


This will help to produce graduate nurse with sound education and clinical experience but please extend it to other areas like the developing countries

Ekeh Ijeoma Jacinta, Registered nurse January 28, 2015 1:59 AM
imo state Nigeria

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