Championing the Capstone Experience
Gutowski, MSNc, BSN, and Ryann Nocereto, MSNc, BSN
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.
nursing have partnered with healthcare organizations to create an immersion program
for senior nursing students, coined the “Capstone Experience.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.