Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) - The Capstone Project
Robert Anderson, FNP, DNP
For his capstone project, Robert educated health care providers on the prescription of probiotics within the primary care setting.
The capstone is an integrated doctoral level project that builds upon progressive learning. The student develops a capstone proposal which is the foundation for the practicum experience and for future practice and innovation. The student is assigned a capstone chair matched with faculty expertise in the student’s selected topical area.
The purpose of the DNP capstone project is to guide the student in applying evidence-based knowledge to the improvement of practice, the promotion of individual and/or aggregate health, and the enhancement of leadership skills toward the solution of health care problems. The DNP capstone can take many forms, but the key points are the synthesis of scientific evidence and the development of an action plan to improve practice. A capstone project could focus on any of the following:
- A system assessment or implementation of a quality improvement project
- Translation of a model or strategy into practice to improve health care outcomes
- A cost-benefit analysis of an existing or proposed practice model
- An analysis of health care policy with a proposed strategy to improve health outcomes
- Development of information technology to impact health outcomes
- Leadership in community-based coalitions mobilizing resources to improve population-based health
- Case study focusing on improvement in health outcomes among a designated vulnerable population, particularly in rural and/or underserved areas
Air Force Colonel Kathleen Flarity, FNP, DNP
For her capstone project, Kathleen examined compassion fatigue and resiliency among emergency nurses. The flexibility of the community-based program allowed her to complete her education in conjunction with deployment in Afghanistan
The DNP student can consider one of the four approaches with the capstone project:
1. An evidence-based comprehensive plan of action for addressing a health care outcome
Develop an in-depth, evidence-based synthesis of the evidence on a selected topic in clinical practice with a plan of action to improve health care outcomes. Include a comprehensive synthesis of the evidence. By the end of this exercise, the student would have thorough evidence-based documentation and a plan of action ready to implement in the clinical setting.
2. An evidence-based comprehensive plan of action that includes implementation and evaluation
Develop an in-depth, evidence-based synthesis of the evidence on a selected topic in clinical practice. Develop a plan of action to improve health care outcomes. Implement and evaluate the plan of action. By the end of this exercise, the student would have an evidence-based completed implementation, usually a pilot study, in the clinical setting.
3. A case study with a client addressing a health care outcome
Select a client with whom to develop a comprehensive plan of action and implement and evaluate the plan in the clinical setting. Generally involves a clinical area of study that has limited evidence (example, pregnancy after bariatric surgery)
4. A quality improvement plan addressing a health care outcome
Develop an in-depth, evidence-based synthesis of the evidence on a selected systems-related topic in clinical practice. Develop a plan of action to address policy and procedural aspects of the issue. Include advocacy, negotiation and discussion with policy makers at various levels.
William “Jeff” Trees, FNP, DNP
Dr. Trees examined ways to improve health care provider adherence with evidence-based low back pain guidelines in a multi-site health care system dealing with workers compensation