Guidelines for Doctor Nursing Practice (DNP) Capstone Projects

Monday, 22 July 2013

Kathleen Farrell, DNSc, APRN, CCNS, CCRN, ACNP-BC
School of Nursing, Murray State University, Murray, KY
Camille Payne, PhD, RN
Nursing, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA
Nancey E. M. France, PhD, RN
Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to formulate a practice problem and organize reviewed literature in a Synthesis Matrix.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to create a mentor and DNP student capstone proposal framework.

Purpose: To provide guidelines for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Capstone Projects

Methods: DNP students are required to complete an evidence-based capstone project.  The capstone is a culmination of the knowledge gained that demonstrates an analytical approach to programmatic, administrative, policy or practice issues that supports the synthesis, transfer or utilization of knowledge.  The capstone process is complex and guidelines will help faculty and committee members to facilitate students to produce a project that that meets the rigors of academic excellence.

Results: An organized framework assisted faculty and students formulate a practice problem idea, research the literature and organize it into a synthesis matrix to develop a proposal. The development of a timeline, progress evaluation and the use of Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence (SQUIRE) guidelines facilitated progression from idea to product.

Conclusions: The rapid explosion, development, and use of DNP programs and graduates across the global world created uncertainty about capstones projects. A review of capstone program requirements demonstrates a wide spectrum of expectations. The capstone project should demonstrate identification and resolution of a practice problem through the scholarship of application or integration, rather than the reductionist scholarship of discovery associated with a research doctorate such as a PhD. To bring validity to the role, the capstone should not mirror research dissertations. As the DNP role evolves, determined effort by DNP faculty need to recognize the capstone experience is designed to make a contribution in the practice setting, community or academic arena. Capstone experiences are characterized by intensive interactions between and among faculty, students, and the community. Interactive discussions of ideas, tools, processes and challenges will be shared.