DNP capstone project ideas

The (DNP) Doctor of Nursing Practice project represents the conclusion of your doctoral degree studies and a chance to put the knowledge acquired into practice. It is a thrilling time when prepping for your DNP project because it allows you to contribute towards the improvement of nursing practice as well as patient outcomes. The DNP project also lays the groundwork for any future scholarships for you.

At the end of your DNP doctoral degree, you will be expected to do a DNP capstone project. This capstone project is your final chance to showcase what you have learned and to show that you’re suitable to graduate as a Doctor of Nursing Practice. If you fail at the capstone project you most likely won’t be fitted with the doctoral degree. Therefore, you must kickstart your project by choosing the best DNP capstone project ideas.

What is a good capstone project for nursing?

Working with capstone project ideas that are not interesting would be the last thing you want to do. That’s why you need to know what makes good capstone project ideas before selecting one to dismiss those that are unviable. For something as important as a capstone project, showing your skills is a very important aspect of the process. A good capstone project for nursing should be;


There are countless challenges out there that need to be solved therefore you’re expected to pick a topic that has not been solved by anyone else before.


The project should showcase what you have learned within your capstone course.


You need to have enough time and resources to be able to finish your research in good time and write to high standards.


You must find real and practical solutions to the challenge to benefit nurse practitioners all over.


You must have a clearly defined question where the research will be focused on and you need to acknowledge when you have a got good solution

What is a DNP capstone project?

A DNP project is a holistic term that describes a scholarly project whose purpose is to convert evidence into practice. A DNP project is a clear indication of your area of specialization thereby allowing you to dive deeper and do a project that is on clinical practice. You are expected to use the DNP project to reveal your mastery in this elaborate nursing speciality.

There are endless DNP capstone project ideas you can choose from. An example is the DNP capstone on the effects or consequences of nursing practice. It can as well be a quality enhancement project or the assessment of a new model of practice. Depending on your area of advanced clinical practice and your university’s or college’s requirements, DNP projects can take different forms. However, they have three components in common which are planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Points to consider when incorporating DNP components

The three components (planning, implementation, and evaluation)are vital DNP essentials which should incorporate some or all the points below;

  • A focus on change that affects healthcare success through direct or indirect primary care.
  • It should have systems or population focus.
  • Implement the right area of practice.
  • Include a viable plan such as political realities.
  • Evaluate processes and outcomes.

What is the purpose of a DNP project?

The purpose of a DNP program is to give a brief of the methods you intend to use to educate others while at the same time delivering care to your chosen community or population. You’ll be expected to use your DNP capstone project to showcase your ability to practice and lead at the highest level of clinical nursing practice.

Skills to have in a DNP program

To be a nurse practitioner, you are expected to integrate a couple of skills in your final DNP program including;

  • Your expertise in the area of your specialization
  • Your expertise in thoughtful practice
  • Independent Inquiry into the practice i.e identifying current challenges and needs in primary care or health care systems.
  • Your ability to research, translate, and evaluate evidence to improve quality of care and health outcomes.
  • Your systems and organizational leadership skills i.e coming up with, implementing, and evaluating services to improve results in different communities and populations.
  • Your knowledge of modern healthcare policies, law, and ethics to bring out a mass program based on the most available and current evidence.

How to create a DNP project using an evidence-based approach

The DNB project is a reflection of your critical thinking skills and the ability to convert findings to practice via problem identification, proposal development, implementation and evaluation. The DNP capstone should be your chance to shine therefore choose the best project ideas. As a nurse practitioner using your area of expertise, develop your project using the evidence-based process in the following manner;

  1. Come up with a well-developed question by identifying a challenge or issue.
  2. Review various literature to get resources that answer your questions.
  3. Using evidence assess the validity of the resources by collecting data using acceptable tools or methods
  4. Apply the evidence by defining results to be measured upon implementation.
  5. Implement and analyze the outcome to identify areas that need improvement.

Questions to consider for a successful capstone program

To make sure your Doctor of Nursing Practice project accomplishes the purpose set, you need to ask yourself the following questions;

  • Does the project focus on people, communities, mass or systems?
  • What challenges or issues does the project seek to address?
  • Is the capstone project only based on clinical practice? Will it rectify problems or straightaway inform my practice?
  • Will my DNP capstone project manifest the competencies I have achieved in my doctoral education?
  • Is my project backed by evidence got through existing literature?
  • Does the research address the results associated with healthcare and patients?
  • Does the project provide a stepping stone for future scholarship in nursing?

DNP capstone ideas

A great way to get inspiration for your project is to go through previous DNP capstone project ideas. Here is a list of them for your inspiration;

  • Implementing EBP in an Acute care Hospital
  • A thorough systematic review of the effects of transformational leadership on nursing staff in acute care hospitals
  • The success of chronic disease self-monitoring programs for mentally ill inmates with diabetes.
  • Strategic plan for coming up with an inpatient clinic program.
  • A factor based job description and assessment of accomplishments for the advanced practice nurse
  • Creation of a call centre and a web-based health information database.
  • Foretellers of a first-year nursing student at risk of early withdrawal
  • Updates of evidence-based practice for nurse practitioners in urgent care.
  • Various methods approach for assessing distance learning in nursing education
  • A report on the current state of nursing informatics certification and competencies and future recommendations.
  • consequences of health education on physical activity and nutrition of school children.
  • Judicious plan for a patient based medical home adaptation.
  • Clinical data for patient based medical home status for diabetes management.
  • Knowing ovarian cancer through training and education.
  • Pain management and women in labour.
  • Warning for women with obesity at ages 40-65.
  • Program for health and wellness of type 2 diabetes patients
  • Family nurse practitioner (FNP) on interventional radiology
  • Prevention of obesity in young children
  • Web-based group intervention for people with metastatic or recurrent pancreatic cancer
  • Policy, leadership and advocacy: Creation of a professional organization for Doctors of Nursing Practice
  • Treatment, prevention and consequences of childhood overweight and obesity
  • Medication safety educative program to lessen the risk of harm caused by medication errors
  • Adaptation checklist for teenagers with sickle cell anaemia

Stages of a capstone project

While the design of your DNP is dependent on the requirements of the university advisory committee, it is most likely going to follow the following steps.

A student picks out his focus area for the capstone project. Based on the mutual agreement between the faculty and the student, a chairperson for the capstone is selected. This individual is vital as he/she and the student will create a study plan and closely work together throughout the project. The student then selects a committee of three capstone members one of whom is the chairperson.

The student becomes eligible to defend his Doctors of Nursing Practice proposal but must first be approved by the committee members. The capstone chairperson and the student work closely to come up with the proposal while using the committee in an advisory capacity. A proposal is then prepared and distributed to the committee members to rule on its acceptability.

Once accepted, the students start implementing the capstone project but must receive approval on all steps of the project. A schedule of the final defence is prepared with the capstone chairman’s approval then distributed to the committee members for an oral defence. The members of the committee critique the project, identify any additional work or changes and then determine the result of the capstone program defence.

What is a DNP quality improvement project?

This is the collective and continual effort of everyone involved i.e health care professionals, researchers, patients and their loved ones, payers, administrators, educators and planners to usher better patient results, professional development and system performance. Quality improvement is a continual process taken up as the outcome of health care workers duty to fulfil their patients’ interests making it different from research.

It is common knowledge that discovery is the main job of the former PhD while translation is the work of DNP. Translation/conversion attempts to solve challenges of the real world using valid and reliable evidence to enhance care. Quality improvement projects rooted in outcomes from human case research, implementing science research and improvement of scientific methods.

Steps in quality improvement projects

  1. Showcasing why change is needed by understanding and summarizing current evidence related to the problem in practice.
  2. Assessing present-day practice to note gaps in knowledge, communication, workflow and more.
  3. Make use of an implementation science theoretical framework, QI process models, and QI improvement science methods to make a plan for executing practice change to address the gaps.
  4. Execute, monitor, and revise the plan as needed.
  5. Disseminate and evaluate outcomes and recommendations for sustainability and possible spread.

Types of Quality improvement projects

Implementing evidence-based practice change

Examples of this include the realisation of a conventional tool for reporting violence in an emergency. Implementing guidelines for an obesity clinical practice. Executing a surgical bundle to minimise site infections. Executing an EB electrocardiogram (EKG) sequence rule to reduce door to EKG times.

Health policy projects

Examples include developing a policy toolkit to strengthen the reintroduction of a nurse practitioner as well as identify and remove any signatory barriers for higher practice registered nurses.

Program development implementation and evaluation

Examples include the implementation of a school-centred asthma action program to further develop an understanding of asthma and self-management skills among school children. Executing a nurse-led process for early identification of substance use abuse disorders in primary care. A nurse residency program execution for public health nurses in the army.

Clinical practice guideline (CPG) development

This involves activities such as CPG development for the management of preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative glucose in diabetic patients undertaking orthopaedic surgery.


June 17, 2021

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