The evidenced-based practice (EBP) project is an integral requirement of the Catholic University Conway School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. The project is a faculty-guided scholarly experience that provides evidence of the student’s critical thinking and ability to apply research principles through problem identification, proposal development, implementation, and evaluation of a clinical problem. The project will reflect the culmination of knowledge and skills developed during the DNP program.

Research and research utilization are critical elements of evidenced-based nursing practice.  Nurses prepared at the DNP level translate evidenced-based research in their own practice and provide leadership for evidenced-based health care. DNP graduates are expected to disseminate and integrate new knowledge and evaluate the application of knowledge.

The EBP project will focus on a theoretically and clinically relevant problem in nursing. This requires competence in knowledge development activities such as the translation of research into practice, application of new knowledge, the evaluation of practice, initiatives that improve the reliability of health care practices and outcomes, and participation in collaborative research (DePalma & McGuire, 2005). Students will follow the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s DNP Essentials for “Clinical scholarship and analytical methods for evidenced-based practice.”

The first step in the EBP Project requires the student to identify a clinical problem in an area of interest. The student will then review and summarize the literature dealing with this problem area and will create a problem statement.  The student then further investigates the problem and proposes a project. Interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches are encouraged.  Following appropriate approval mechanisms, the project is implemented, evaluated, and described in a scholarly paper.

EBP projects include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Practice change initiatives
  • Program needs assessment, development and evaluation
  • Evaluation of an existing program
  • Development of an assessment instrument/protocol for a specified population
  • A cost/benefit analysis of program models
  • Performance improvement project
  • Research utilization project
  • Practice management project
  • Other scholarly project as approved

EBP projects are:

  • Setting/population specific.
  • Grounded in clinical practice and, ideally, collaborative across disciplines.
  • Independent projects led by the student (although they may be a piece of a larger project).
  • Designed to solve practice problems and inform practice directly.
  • Developed in conjunction with a committee.
  • Conducted according to ethical principles.

EBP Project Committee

The EBP project committee requires a minimum of three members. The EBP Project Committee Chair must be a doctorally prepared faculty member in the School of Nursing. One committee member must be external to the SON.  External members may be clinical experts, experts in population health, experts in program development or methods of evaluation. Committee members should have a minimum of a Master’s degree with appropriate clinical expertise in the topic area. The student should submit the names of committee members to the Director of the DNP Program for approval.

EBP Project and Product

The main product of the EBP project will be the scholarly paper, with the following components:

  1. Nature and scope of the project (introduction, problem identification, significance, project objectives)
  2. Synthesis and analysis of supporting and related literature
  3. Project methods
  4. Project implementation
  5. Evaluation, outcomes (actual and predicted), implications & conclusions

EBP Project Process

The first three components of the paper are written in support of the proposal.  Following approval of the three components by each committee member, a proposal defense must be arranged. The Committee Chair forwards the name of the candidate to the Director of the DNP Program and the candidate will provide the Director with one copy of the necessary documents (listed below) as well as one copy of the first three components.

The Candidate is responsible for scheduling the Project Defense meeting at a time that is acceptable to all members.  The Candidate must submit copies of the following to all members of the Committee a minimum of two weeks prior to the scheduled meeting:

  • Two-page EBP Project proposal
  • Reference page
  • Consent Form(s)
  • Copies of any protocols, tools, or instruments that will be used
  • Letter(s) of support to implement project at the proposed setting(s)
  • Completion certificate:  Human Participant Protection for Research.

The candidate should complete the top portion of the form  Recommendations of EPB Project Proposal Committee prior to the project defense and bring it to the meeting so that the requisite signatures can be obtained on the day of the defense.

Following a successful proposal defense, the candidate should submit a final copy of the project proposal plus any additional information needed by human subjects review clearly identified as attachments and separate from the two-page proposal, plus the signed Request for Approval form to the office of the Director of the DNP Program. Upon receipt of these documents, the Program Director will submit the proposal to an external reviewer from within the School of Nursing.  The external reviewer will submit Report of External Reviewer to the Program Director. Final approval will be provided by the Assistant Dean of Doctoral Programs in the School of Nursing.

Formal implementation of the project may begin only after necessary written approvals are provided by the CUA Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects and the Institutional Review Board where the project is to be conducted (if applicable).

The Candidate implements and evaluates the project and completes a final draft of scholarly paper under the guidance of the Project Chair and with the concurrence of the committee members.

Following approval of the paper by the full committee, the committee chair notifies the candidate of committee approval and authorizes the student to schedule an oral presentation in the SON which is open to the University community.

The Candidate requests the scheduling of the oral presentation through the SON Office of the Assistant Dean for Doctoral Programs and completes materials for the presentation at least three weeks prior to the proposed date.  Following the presentation, final approval of the EBP Project is indicated by the signature of the Committee Chair on the Approval of Evidence Based Practice Project form.

The scholarly paper is included in the student’s portfolio (See DNP Professional Portfolio).

Criteria for evaluation of the Scholarly Paper and EBP project include (adapted from the NONPF Subcommittee on Capstone Project, NONPF, 2006):

  • Is there evidence of clinical scholarship?
  • Does the project demonstrate clinical expertise and clinical decision-making?
  • Was there an identified need for the project?
  • Was the project selected of adequate complexity?  Feasible?  Were alternatives considered?
  • What aspect of the project involved vision, leadership, policy?
  • How does the project build upon knowledge, relate to theory, relate to the literature, and foster practice-related research?
  • Who will benefit from this work?  Does this project raise the bar for quality of care delivery?  Was there evidence of collaboration?
  • How does the project advance our knowledge about practice?  Does the project resolve a controversy
  • Does the project bring together separate views, offer new insights or directions?  Does the project raise questions about conventional care?
  • How will the results of the project be disseminated?