WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF NURSING CAPSTONE PROJECTS THAT STUDENTS CAN WORK ON?

Nursing capstone projects are intended to be culminating academic experiences that allow nursing students to demonstrate their mastery of nursing knowledge and skills. Here are some potential nursing capstone project ideas that students could explore:

Implementing and Evaluating a New Patient Education Program: Nursing students could develop an educational program or materials for patients on a topic like diabetes self-management, wound care, medication adherence, etc. They would implement the program on a unit and evaluate its effectiveness through pre/post-tests, patient surveys, or clinical measures. This allows students to demonstrate skills in health teaching, program development, and program evaluation.

Improving Staff Compliance with Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines: Students may identify an area where compliance with best practice guidelines could be improved, such as hand hygiene, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, deep vein thrombosis prevention, etc. They would perform a needs assessment, develop an intervention like an educational in-service or reminder system, implement the intervention, and evaluate whether compliance and/or clinical outcomes improved. This projects addresses quality improvement and EBP implementation.

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Evaluating the Impact of a New Nursing Practice Model: If a unit or facility recently transitioned to a new nursing practice model (e.g. from task-based to relationship-based care), a student could evaluate the impact through surveys, focus groups, or clinical measures. Did nursing satisfaction, work environments, care experiences, or outcomes change with the new model? What facilitated or hindered the transition? Evaluation and research skills are demonstrated.

Reducing 30-Day Hospital Readmissions: Students may conduct a quality improvement project focused on reducing readmissions for patients with a certain diagnosis like COPD, heart failure, diabetes, etc. This would involve assessing current barriers and facilitators to smooth transitions of care, developing and implementing multi-component patient/family education and follow-up programs, and tracking readmission rates before and after the intervention. Skills in chronic care management, transitions of care, population health and quantitative evaluation are demonstrated.

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Exploring Nurses’ Knowledge of Genetic Concepts: As genetic/genomic concepts are increasingly important in nursing, a student could assess nurses’ current understanding of basic genetic principles, concepts related to a disease with a genetic component (e.g. cancer), pharmacogenomics, ethical/legal implications, and genomic-based nursing interventions. Barriers and educational needs could be identified. This helps improve genetic literacy and displays research competency.

Evaluating a Palliative Care Consultation Program: If palliative care services had recently expanded, a student could evaluate the impact on patient/family satisfaction, symptom management, length of stay, ICU transfers, aggressive end-of-life care and costs compared to usual care. Did the program meet its goals of improving quality of life and aligning care with patient values and preferences through early specialist involvement? This projects involves program evaluation and addressing complex chronic/terminal illness issues.

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Implementing Culturally Competent Communication Tools: Given nursing’s increasing responsibility to provide culturally safe, trauma-informed care, a student could develop communication tools, checklists or protocols for working competently with specific ethnic groups or those from disadvantaged backgrounds. They would pilot the tools then evaluate through clinician feedback and patient experience metrics to demonstrate enhanced cultural competency.

Those represent just a few potential nursing capstone project ideas that allow students to delve deeply into focused subjects like quality improvement, evidence-based practice, clinical outcomes evaluation, research, or advanced practice nursing roles. A well-designed capstone should provide opportunities to develop breadth and depth of competency across multiple nursing responsibilities based on current opportunities at the clinical site. With faculty oversight and approvals, nursing students have freedom to design impactful projects tailored to their area of interest and the needs of the organization.

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