DNP Capstone Writing
One of the essential parts of completing your DNP degree is writing your capstone. The capstone project is a research paper that presents the culmination of all the knowledge and skills acquired from nursing school and previous classes like Medical-surgical nursing and Psychiatric mental health Nursing.
The capstone should be well researched, have appropriate references, and include an abstract, table of contents, a purpose statement. It should also have an introduction, methods and materials used in the study/research (if applicable), results or outcome of data collection (if applicable), discussion on findings, conclusion with implications for future research.
Capstone papers are usually narrative writing but can also be descriptive or explanatory. The narrative is the most commonly used method, and the paper is usually 3000-10,000 words in length (and no more than that).
A capstone paper can be based on a theory you studied or your own theory/research on an existing topic. Before writing your capstone, however, you must do further research to ensure there are not already.
What is a capstone project, and why do you need it?
A DNS capstone writing project is a research paper (preferably) or any other form of applied research. The purpose of this research, generally, is to allow students to display what they have learned in nursing school. Capstone projects usually consist of both theory and practice; it’s not just an end-of-the-year paper to see if you passed the course.
The theory behind this project is that students will apply nursing skills and knowledge gained throughout their academic experience. It also forces students to use critical thinking processes since a capstone paper involves research using scholarly or peer-reviewed sources. Students learn how to organize information, find credible resources, and write their studies.
Students may choose to expand upon the theories they have already studied in a nursing class or prefer to research an entirely different topic. If you decide to write about an approach you have learned, be careful about not stepping on toes and remaining objective. Generally, writing about scholarly articles related to your topic is recommended for hypothesis-driven papers.
For example, a nurse could choose to write about the medical-surgical or psychiatric nursing theories and how they pertain to patients with diabetes mellitus in the intensive care unit. Students may also try to synthesize theory by incorporating aspects from different areas.
In short, capstone papers teach students what it’s like to be a nurse in practice and not just in theory. Students learn how to gather pertinent information in the real world.
How to make your statement for the DNP Capstone Writing Project
Your statement is one of the most crucial parts of your capstone project. It gives you a chance to explain or elaborate on who you are, what you want out of life, and how you believe becoming a nurse will help you achieve those goals. Your statement can be any length; it just needs to be well-written and convincing.
The reader can sense if you are not confident in what you have written, so be sure to check for spelling and grammar mistakes. You should also use “I” statements instead of “they.” For example, don’t write, “the students do not participate in this class,” write something like, “I do not feel like the students participate in this class.” You want to display who you are and your goals, not pointing the finger at others.
Tips on how to write my paper:
- Before you begin writing, discover what is expected of your paper. This means analyzing the assignment description: define if it’s a research paper or an assessment, for instance, and check to see how many pages can be used (3000 words max), as well as any requirements such as referencing professional journals. Then, decide on which theory you want to use as the basis of your paper.
- For a nurse, it is advisable to conduct further research by reading scholarly journals related to that theory/topic you want to write about. You also need to search for appropriate sources you can cite in your paper. Be sure to note the author’s name, the year of publication, and any relevant first-page information. If you cannot find enough sources online, try going to your local library or bookstore for further research.
- After gathering all the material needed, write a thesis statement. This should be reported to excite and draw readers’ attention to what you want to write about.
- Organize your paper. Think about the order in which you want to layout your essay before you begin writing. The introduction should communicate a clear and concise thesis statement that is relevant to the topic of study. It’s best to avoid using “I” but instead speaks in general terms so as not to distract from this first page.
- Be sure to provide enough supporting material. The best way is to write out the essential points of your paper in bullet points to be easily referenced when you are writing or editing. If it’s a scholarly article that you used as a source, include page numbers and paragraph numbers instead.
What are some common mistakes that students make when writing their papers?
- Using “I” instead of “the author” or citing a reference directly without using an in-text citation. To avoid these kinds of mistakes, make sure you understand what is expected of your paper before beginning it and have any sources readily available if required.
- Lengthy introductions that go on for two or three pages. There is no set rule on how long your intro should be, but try to keep it relatively short so that the reader can focus and understand what you are writing about without getting bored by a lengthy introduction.
- Not understanding how to cite/reference sources in APA format properly.
- Using inappropriate terms to describe a theory/topic. This is common among nursing students who use the exact old words and phrases repeatedly (using nurses speak too much), so thinking outside the box is critical!
- Not addressing your reader directly in any sense can be done by using “I” statements instead of “the author,” etc.
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