Key Facilitator Information

Overview of DNP project
  • Define DNP project:
    The DNP Project is the scholarly product required by all DNP Programs. The process includes the design, implementation, and evaluation of a program/project that addresses a real-world clinical problem, population health issue or health systems challenge and aligns with the strategic goals and pertinent quality metrics of a health related organization.
  • DNP project goal:
    The goal of the DNP Project is to translate current best evidence to improve the quality of health care, health outcomes, and health care systems. The DNP project may also be an evaluation project of an existing program, initiative, or process.


Developing the project idea
  • When thinking about the DNP project, the student may propose project ideas based upon their area of clinical interest or specific population of interest.
  • The project idea should be generated from an identified problem or need, with supporting data, in a clinical setting or with a population (See Appendix A Evolution of an Idea).
  • Potential ideas for DNP projects are those that are priorities for the agency/organization and link to quality and safety goals
  • Students should be flexible about the focus of the project; what is most important is that it is a priority/need for the agency/organization
  • Good projects to consider are those without a time imperative imposed by the organization so that the student can learn application of course content in an organized manner
  • In some cases, students may be matched to a DNP project focus that was generated by the organization
DNP Project Course Work

The DNP Project Facilitator Guide is a one page reference that pulls together all information on course work, objectives, and facilitator responsibilities per term. We recommend you review this document and print for easy reference as you work with our DNP students.

Download the DNP Project Facilitator Guide. 

Didactic course:

  • NSG 608 Program Evaluation: This course provides students with the information and tools needed to strategically evaluate change initiatives and outcomes in practice and health care environments.
  • NSG 610: Project Planning and Implementation: This course examines implementation science theories, models and frameworks intended to improve health care quality. Complex factors that influence an effective and sustainable implementation initiative will be analyzed through critique of research in the field. This course provides students with the information and tools required to plan a strategy that evaluates and/ or improves quality and patient safety in complex healthcare environments.

DNP practicum and seminar courses:
There is a series of 3 DNP project practicum courses that are focused on providing students with experience in the application of advanced nursing practice and systems level knowledge in a healthcare setting. In the entirety of the practicum series, students will translate current best evidence and use collaborative skills, leadership skills, and knowledge of informatics to design, implement, and evaluate a project to improve health outcomes.

  • NSG 609A: DNP Project Practicum A:
    The focus of this course is conducting a comprehensive and systematic assessment of the context, organization, population, and problem.
  • NSG 609B: DNP Project Practicum B:
    The focus of this course is the implementation of a project that is evidenced-based, feasible, and acceptable to key stakeholders.
  • NSG 609C: DNP Project Practicum C:
    The focus of this course is project evaluation and dissemination.
  • NSG 615: DNP Project Proposal Seminar: This seminar focuses on the development of the DNP proposal. Students are guided by their DNP project advisor/project lead in the development of their project proposal and in the integration of core content obtained throughout the DNP program. Upon completion of this seminar, the student will have developed and received the required approvals on a project proposal and presentation and will have submitted necessary Institutional Review Board requirements. 

Expectations for DNP Project Hours

  • DNP students are expected to complete 252 hours towards their DNP project.
  • The time at the site is to learn about the site, determine what problems exist, do an assessment of the site/organization and/or population, and collect data, review charts, meetings with the facilitator and other stakeholders. Other site related activities depend upon the goals of the project. Some of the typical activities are:
    • Literature review including choosing framework, applying framework to problem (approximately 20 hours)
    • Meetings and time spent at site with stakeholders and evaluating site (including meeting prep, follow up, etc)
    • Communication with stakeholders outside of meetings (eg. emails, etc)
    • Advisor meetings
    • Data collection activities
    • Developing strategies, tools (eg. focus group questions, chart audit tools, etc)
    • Implementing the project
    • Evaluating the project
    • Activities related to dissemination of project results
Key Milestones

There are four milestones (DNP project written proposal, DNP proposal presentation, DNP final presentation and DNP final written report). There are guidelines and grading rubrics which clearly articulate a passing grade on a project. The advisor/first reader and second reader have the ultimate responsibility to evaluate and approve these milestones.

  • DNP Project Proposal – written and oral presentation
    • Occurs when student is in NSG 615 Seminar
  • DNP Project Final – written and oral presentation
    • Occurs when student is in NSG 609C last practicum
Collaborative Fit for a Successful Project

“Collaborative fit” refers to the potential success of a specific project within an organization. There are several questions to consider when determining “collaborative fit”.

  • Does the problem focus align with the strategic goals of the organization?
  • Does the need/timing to address the problem match the student’s timeline for the DNP project?
  • Is the proposed intervention feasible to implement in the setting?
  • Who is the “right” facilitator to support student’s successful integration within the setting?
  • Is the proposed intervention potentially sustainable which is the extent it delivers its benefits over an extended period of time
  • Is there an evaluation plan in place that will demonstrate clinical significance and value added to the organization?
Busy Terms for Facilitator

There are several terms as the DNP project is being developed when the facilitator and student will work closely. The DNP Project Facilitator Guide outlines each term with facilitator responsibilities ( Link):

  • 609a and 615- Identification of problem, purpose, project objectives, and outcome/evaluation plan is developed. DNP proposal oral and written is finalized
  • 609b implementation
  • 609c evaluation, final paper, presentation
Facilitator Evaluation of Student

At the end of each DNP practicum the facilitator is asked to complete an evaluation of the student on the RUSH College of Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Project Practicum Evaluation. You will receive this form from the student after they complete their self-evaluation. The form will be sent to you via email through an online platform called EXXAT.  

Tips from Previous Facilitators
  • Establish regular interactions with the student:
    • Meet with the student at the beginning of each term to identify expectations and deliverables
    • Meet with the student, Advisor/First Reader at least once a term to review project progress
  • Facilitate initial introductions and meetings with key stakeholders
  • Frequency of student/facilitator meetings may increase during project development (NSG 609a DNP Project Practicum, NSG 615 Project Proposal Seminar) and project evaluation (NSG 609C Project Evaluation)
  • Attend student project proposal and final presentations during NSG 615 and 609C. This can be in person or virtual.
  • Complete student evaluation forms at the end of each term
  • Reach out to advisor with any issues/concerns/questions. They are there to help guide the project and be a resource for you.