Implementing a PTSD treatment program for veterans:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common among veterans returning from deployments overseas. Your capstone project could focus on developing and implementing an evidence-based PTSD treatment program specifically tailored for veterans at your local VA hospital or veterans center. You would research different treatment options for PTSD like cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure therapy. You would then work with mental health providers and administrators to design a program incorporating these interventions. You would need to determine staffing needs, create a curriculum and schedule for the program, develop participant screening and intake processes, and identify ways to measure outcomes. Your project would conclude by implementing the program for a pilot group of veterans and assessing the initial outcomes.
Reducing suicide risk among LGBTQ youth:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are at higher risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts compared to heterosexual youth. For your capstone, you could focus on implementing suicide prevention strategies targeting LGBTQ youth at a local high school. This would involve researching best practices for supporting and screening LGBTQ youth, providing training to school staff on LGBTQ issues and warning signs, creating LGBTQ-inclusive wellness programs, and designating confidential counselors as safe places for students. You would work with administrators, counselors and LGBTQ student groups to roll out these initiatives. The project would assess if implementation helped foster a more inclusive environment and reduce suicide risk perceptions among LGBTQ students.
Decreasing hospital readmissions among patients with schizophrenia:
People with schizophrenia often struggle with medication and symptom management after hospital discharge, increasing their risk of readmission. Your capstone could center on developing and testing an intensive community-based care coordination program to help stabilize schizophrenia patients once they leave inpatient care. This would involve creating a collaborative care team of nurses, case managers, prescribers, and community health workers. The team would provide in-home nursing visits, medication monitoring, individual therapy, illness management skills training, and help navigating community resources like support groups. Your project would recruit recent schizophrenia patient discharges and provide intensive care coordination for 3-6 months. Outcomes tracked could include rates of acute care visits, psychiatric hospital readmissions, and performance on psychiatric symptom and functionality scales.
Promoting coping skills and wellness among dementia family caregivers:
Caring for a loved one with dementia at home can take an emotional and physical toll on caregivers. Your capstone might create and evaluate a support program teaching coping strategies and self-care skills specifically for dementia family caregivers. This could involve hostings skills-building workshops covering stress management, communicating with persons with dementia, accessing community supports, establishing a care team, recognizing and responding to caregiver burnout, and making time for hobbies and social interaction. Satisfaction surveys, standardized depression and anxiety scales, and qualitative interviews could assess if participation improves caregivers’ mental health, coping abilities, and caregiving self-efficacy over 3-6 months. Referrals would come from local Alzheimer’s Association chapters, geriatric care managers, and memory disorder clinics.
Each of these capstone topic ideas would allow an in-depth exploration of an important mental health nursing issue, involve designing and evaluating a concrete intervention program, and make a contribution to improving outcomes, experiences or supports in a specific patient or client population. The project would require extensive research into best practices, collaboration with mental health providers and organizations in planning and implementation, collection of both quantitative and qualitative outcome data, and communication of findings through a formal written paper and oral presentation. Any of these topics could become an impactful nursing capstone with sufficiently detailed planning and execution over one academic term or year.