Evidence-Based Mentoring and Partnership Strategies for Doctoral Student Progression

Wednesday, 24 July 2013: 8:50 AM

Maria R. Shirey, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN
College of Nursing and Health Professions, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN

Learning Objective 1: Discuss the use of mastery learning theory and its application to doctoral student academic progression.

Learning Objective 2: Identify tailored evidence-based strategies for mentoring, partnering, and pacing doctoral students for program progression, completion, and professional impact.

Background and Purpose:  According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, doctoral nursing programs enrollment has increased significantly over the last year indicating strong interest in both research-focused and practice-focused doctorates (AACN, 2011).  Interest and growth in doctoral nursing education is also evident outside the United States (Malloch, 2009; Lee, 2009).  Despite the increasing number of nursing doctoral programs, attrition continues and many students never receive a doctorate degree.  To meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations (IOM, 2011) for doubling the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020, schools of nursing must review their student progression policies/practices to ensure capable students graduate. 

Purpose.  This presentation discusses mentoring and partnership strategies to pace doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) students for program progression, completion, and impact. 

Methods.  The author developed a DNP Graduate Program Game Plan (G2P2) to mentor and pace DNP capstone students.  This game plan uses a grid, which is customized for each student and incorporates ten distinctive evidence-based strategies with related faculty prompts. 

Outcomes.  The DNP G2P2 yields positive outcomes. Students mentored in this way have an early clear understanding of the DNP student journey, make steady program progression, and graduate on time.  DNP capstone students mentored with the G2P2 produce high quality work that has potential for professional impact.  Lastly, students verbalize satisfaction with their doctoral mentoring experience and recommend the DNP program to others.  

Conclusions and Implications.  Having in place tailored strategies to mentor, partner with, and pace DNP students influences program progression, completion, and professional impact.  The DNP G2P2 facilitates deliberate mentoring and pacing practices not leaving student progression to chance.  Evidence suggests well mentored doctoral students not only graduate improving nursing program outcomes; they also graduate feeling more positive toward their career enhancing the likelihood they will pass forward the supportive mentoring practices.