Development and Evaluation of a Scholarly Writing Course in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Monday, 9 November 2015: 10:00 AM

Maria R. Shirey, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FACHE, FAAN
School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
David E. Vance, PhD, MGS
Associate Director, Office of Research & Scholarship, School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
E. Laura Wright, PhD, MNA,CRNA
Nurse Anesthesia MSN Specialty Track Assistant Coordinator, School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Bimingham, AL, USA

Background:  There is available empirical and anecdotal data to suggest that students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program lack scholarly writing proficiency.  Although success in scholarly writing is essential for progression in the DNP program, few academic programs have available formal writing for publication courses.   

Purpose:  This presentation describes the development and evaluation of an innovative scholarly writing course in a DNP program with a diverse student population.  The designed curriculum as well as related outcomes will be discussed.  Information is presented within the context of doctoral nursing education accreditation standards and evidence-based strategies incorporating leadership development for scholarly writing skill set acquisition and influence beyond the classroom.    

Methods: The authors used existing evidence from the literature to develop and evaluate a scholarly writing course using a model that translates research findings into instructional design.  The course also addressed the DNP Essentials of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) with particular focus on clinical scholarship.  Critical appraisal of the evidence produced a curricular organizing framework that consisted of five course modules:  Overview, Foundations, Mechanics, Practice, and Products/Dissemination.  Each module had distinct assignments consistent with course objectives and conceived to follow an incremental “build a scholarly paper” approach.  A total of 64 students at a large southeastern university completed the 3 semester hour distance accessible writing for publication course.  Three faculty members experienced in scholarly writing and publication taught the course.  Although extensive faculty guidance was provided over the course’s 14-week semester, emphasis was given to teamwork for building community and emphasizing peer instruction.  The course culminated in a Virtual Conference for Clinical Scholars, a venue in which all teams (maximum of 5 students per team) presented their scholarly work and faculty gave awards to recognize exceptional products.  A compendium of abstracts was assembled to showcase student work and emphasize professionalism and potential leadership influence.  Program evaluation consisted of quantitative and qualitative student evaluations of faculty teaching and course design. Manuscript completion, submission, and pending publication were also measured.

Results: The writing for publication course produced 14 team manuscripts and 64 guest editorials suitable for submission to publication.  Although 10% of the students verbalized frustration with working in teams, in 100% of the 14 teams at least one team member expressed appreciation for their newfound confidence in developing a scholarly paper suitable for submission to a journal for publication.  The majority of the student evaluations of teaching rated instruction as positive and the course as rigorous.  Mostly the students reported the course was helpful suggesting the developmental approach to building scholarly writing capacity was effective. It was evident from student performance and feedback that more foundational instruction in the American Psychological Association's (APA) standards for formatting was needed early in the course as well as didactic content on team dynamics. 

Conclusion: Scholarly writing in nursing is a necessary skill set that can be cultivated.  Implementation of a writing for publication course as a required core course in the DNP program provides a developmental “guide by the side” approach to instruction that facilitates student program progression and enhances confidence for potential leadership influence.  Enlisting students to pursue a guided scholarly writing journey is more effective than merely providing didactic content and expecting dissemination results.  Institutions wanting to build student scholarly writing skills and enhance leadership potential for broader influence must invest in capacity building to reap future benefits. Part of capacity building in scholarly writing entails developing student expectations of receiving feedback and acceptance to constructive professional coaching.