Nursing is a dynamic and diverse field, so there are many potential options for nursing capstone projects. Some ideas that nursing students may want to consider include:
Conducting a needs assessment of a community: Students could partner with a local community organization or underserved population to assess their healthcare needs. This may involve conducting interviews, surveys, and focus groups to determine barriers to care, health education needs, or gaps in available services. From there, students could propose recommendations or initiatives to address identified needs. This type of project helps develop skills in community assessment, program planning, and health promotion.
Implementing and evaluating an evidence-based practice change: Students identify an area for improvement within a clinical setting, research best practices, develop and implement a protocol or procedure change based on evidence, and evaluate its impact. For example, a student may implement a fall prevention protocol on a medical unit and track fall rates before and after to assess effectiveness. This allows students to gain experience leading practice changes and quality improvement efforts.
Creating an educational program or materials: Developing and presenting an educational workshop, course, or patient/community materials on a selected health topic. Example topics could include chronic disease self-management, nutrition education, medication adherence, women’s health issues, etc. Students demonstrate teaching and health communication skills. Evaluation involves obtaining participant feedback and assessing knowledge gained.
Conducting a research study: Carrying out a small scale quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research project on a nursing or patient care topic of their choosing. This involves developing a proposal, obtaining necessary approvals, collecting and analyzing data, and disseminating results. Common nursing research topics may include compassion fatigue in nurses, patient satisfaction with different discharge teaching methods, telephone follow-up care and its impact on recovery, and more. Students gain valuable research experience.
Developing a health/wellness program proposal: Create a proposal and implementation plan for a new health/wellness initiative within their clinical setting or community. Programs could address areas like stress management for nurses, chronic disease self-management courses, employee wellness programs at hospitals, youth mental health promotion, and more. The proposal should include needs assessment data, goal/outcomes, logistics, budget, and sustainability planning.
Creating an educational toolkit or database: Develop online or print resources to provide education and support around a certain health topic or condition. This could include compiling relevant research, creating easy-to-understand written materials and visuals, and organizing the information into a accessible format like a website or database that clinicians or patients could reference. Examples may cover postpartum depression screening, diabetes foot care, medication adherence for older adults, and more.
Simulation and debriefing experience: Plan, implement, and evaluate a simulation experience for other nursing students involving a complex patient case. Develop the scenario, oversee the simulation, and facilitate a recorded reflective group debriefing session afterwards. The focus is on demonstrating competency in simulation pedagogy, complex clinical reasoning, and group facilitation skills. Feedback is obtained from participants.
Policy brief or proposal: Research a nursing or healthcare policy issue, analyze stakeholders and implications, and develop a 3-5 page policy brief making evidence-based recommendations. Or create a more extensive proposal for a new policy on the federal, state or organizational level. Examples may cover nurse staffing ratios, scope of practice laws, workplace safety, health equity policies, and more. Shows skills in researching healthcare systems and policymaking.
Program evaluation: Conduct an outcomes-based evaluation of an existing nursing program, intervention, or model of care. This involves developing evaluation questions, collecting and analyzing appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative data, interpreting results, and providing a summary report on the program’s effectiveness, recommendations for improvement, and usefulness within the evidence base. For instance, students could evaluate the impact of a hospital’s discharge phone call program.
These are just a few of the many possibilities for meaningful nursing capstone projects. The key aspects are demonstrating synthesis of nursing knowledge through application, gaining valuable experience that complements the nursing role, and making a potential contribution or impact. Students should select an area of personal interest where they can show leadership, critical thinking, and advancement of the nursing profession through their work. With faculty guidance, nursing capstones have the potential to be impactful learning experiences.