DNP Student Projects

See what current students are working on while earning their Doctor of Nursing Practice degree

Teresa Dubovich

Domestic Violence Prevention Program

Teresa’s purpose for her domestic violence prevention program is to provide the adolescent population the knowledge and skills for healthy relationships that are conveyed into adulthood. With this project, Teresa hopes to establish a program that can be integrated into the school system that is financially viable and efficient. Objectives include utilizing literature review and model programs as resources for program development, collecting data from the Center of Disease Control that have been accepted as educational training, and exploring partnerships with anti-violence agencies.

Donna Matocha

Infusion Alarms Management

Infusion devices are the largest portion of portable medical devices in hospital settings and contribute to a large portion of alarm noise. Alarm fatigue has reached national attention from multiple organizations in the health industry, including The Joint Commission, Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI), and the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), among others. Donna intends to utilize Lean Six Sigma and Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) frameworks in the development and implementation of a bundled intervention, including multiple infusion devices to reduce alarms.

Kathy Dunn

Health Literacy Intervention

Limited health literacy results in limited comprehension of health advice, educational materials, prescriptions, rehabilitation, or exercise regimens, resulting in impaired disease self-management. Lower health literacy and numeracy skills have been independently associated with poor health knowledge, poor health behaviors, and worse clinical outcomes. Kathy’s objective is to evaluate the implementation of health literacy intervention to improve diabetic regimen adherence among adult patients with low literacy rates in a low cost ambulatory care clinic.

Stephanie Gedzyk-Nieman, MSN, RNC-MNN

Exploring Attitudes of Acceptance of Males in Nursing: A Pilot Study

The lack of growth in the number of males in the nursing profession is an important issue to address - not only for the profession, but for the patients that nurses serve. The purpose of this quantitative, non-experimental, descriptive correlational study is to compare male and female nurses’ attitudes of acceptance of male nurses and to examine if certain demographic variables are correlated to greater attitudes of acceptance. Stephanie expects this study to provide insights into the current culture of acceptance of male nurses in the workplace, allow for the identification of possible areas of concern, and provide opportunities for growth. Addressing these possible areas of concern may result in greater job satisfaction and career longevity for male nurses, an improved environment for both male and female nurses, and a means to improve patient satisfaction.

Lorna Dudzik, DNP, MS, RN, APN, CNS, CEN

Evaluation of the Impact of the American Heart Association Resuscitation Quality Improvement Program at a Community Hospital

National statistics report unsettling cardiac arrest survivability as low as 24% for in-hospital cardiac arrest to discharge. Equally disconcerting research demonstrates cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills decay within six months. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), poor quality CPR should be considered a preventable harm, and in 2015 the AHA issued a national urgency to improve cardiac arrest survivability. The AHA created a transformative shift away from traditional biannual CPR training to a low-dose, high-frequency innovation called the Resuscitation Quality Improvement (RQI) program. In 2016, Illinois Valley Community Hospital (Peru, IL) was the first hospital in Illinois to implement the RQI program. Lorna plans to evaluate the impact of the RQI program at this hospital over a 2.5-year period, which she expects will provide evidence of the efficacy and value of RQI. Lorna intends to not only provide a beneficial and robust evaluation for hospital stakeholders, but also to contribute toward the AHA’s growing body of knowledge and insight regarding the impact of RQI at a rural community hospital.

Deborah Kornacker, DNP, MSN, RN

A Patient Portal Push towards Utilization of the Technology

Nationally, electronic health records (EHR) have the capacity to enhance patient-centered care through online engagement between providers and patients. Currently, many healthcare centers and providers fall short in attracting patients to register and utilize online patient portals. In order to positively influence portal adoption and utilization among providers, clinical staff, and patients, Deborah coordinated a 90-day “Portal Push” marketing and education initiative at the Will County Community Health Center (WCCHC) in Joliet, IL. Upon program completion and evaluation, Deborah will determine if “meaningful use” benchmarks set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) were met (i.e. whether registration and utilization had increased). The program evaluation will also explore the level of interest in and acceptance of portal technology by the aforementioned groups.

Maureen Reilly McCormick, DNP, FNP-BC, BC-ADM, CDE

The Impact of Motivational Interviewing of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Care

Diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2) is a prevalent and costly disease worldwide. Self-care management can be burdensome for patients and lead to elevated HbA1c, diabetes-related distress, and reduced regime adherence; additionally, poor glycemic control is associated with higher rates of complications. Maureen’s pilot study explored the impact of a Motivational Interviewing (MI) intervention on glycemic control, diabetes-related distress, and self-care behaviors in patients with DM2 over the course of three months. The study results demonstrated that an APN-provided MI intervention can improve glycemic control and reduce diabetes-related distress.

Julia Koklys, DNP, APRN-FPA, FNP-BC

Nurse Practitioner Perceived Readiness for Full Practice Authority

Nurse practitioners provide safe, quality and cost-effective care to patients across the lifespan. However, scopes very between states due to independent state licensing laws and locally established criteria to obtain full practice authority (FPA) for nurse practitioners; this has created disparity in Nurse Practitioner practice across the nation. Julia examined which characteristics correlated with a Nurse Practitioner’s sense of perceived readiness for FPA by conducting an online survey for qualified participants. Overall, higher scores on autonomy, competence, and relatedness scales were positively correlated with a stronger sense of perceived readiness for FPA, with perceived competence being the strongest.

Linda Liu, DNP, RN, MSN, BC, ONC

Improving Nurses’ Knowledge and Attitudes toward Pain Management

In the United States, 76 million hospitalized patients suffer from pain, at a cost of $635 billion annually. A comprehensive literature review shows that nurses’ inadequate knowledge and attitudes affect pain management. Linda’s project assesses hospital-wide nurses’ knowledge and attitudes toward pain management in order to develop a pain management protocol integrated with the Joint Commission’s new requirement. Her goal is to then implement the new protocol in a medical oncology unit to determine if the pain management protocol improved the nurses’ knowledge and attitudes towards pain management and increased the unit’s pain management scores. Through pre- and post-test surveys, the study results showed specific deficits and challenges in regard to knowledge and attitudes in pain management, yet significantly improved after intervention implementation. Linda determined that improving nurses’ knowledge and attitudes toward pain management needs education, interdisciplinary team approaches, and organizational leadership support.

Sarah E. Gouwens, DNP, RN, MSN

Effects of Simulation on Nurses Attitudes, Perceptions, and Skills on End-of-Life Care

Nurses need to be competent and confident in providing end-of-life care. Most curricula, particularly at the undergraduate level, are deficient in this area; hence, it is the responsibility of healthcare agencies to provide opportunities for nurses to gain experience, skills, positive attitudes related to end-of-life care. Sarah’s project provides a simulation to enhance end-of-life care training for a new nurse residency program. By measuring skill performance and conducting pre- and post-simulation questionnaires, Sarah found that participants’ attitudes towards caring for the dying became more positive and their perceived ability to provide care for these patients had improved.

Katelyn S. Myroniak, DNP, RN, CMSRN

Improving Safety and Competence of Medication Administration with Simulation in a New Graduate Residency Program

Katelyn’s study used a simulation to increase medication administration knowledge and skill in new graduate nurses. Based on pre- and post-test results to two different groups of new graduate nurses, Katelyn found that a simulation may be a useful tool in helping new graduate nurses become more safe at the bedside when administering medications. Her study results also suggest that new graduate nurses are more satisfied with simulation experiences than classroom-only experiences, and they desire more medication administration education and guidance earlier in their career. The results of this study were published in an article in The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, Vol 52, No 1, 2021. 

Kimberly Scheffel, DNP, RN, CNRN, NE-BC

Motivational Interviewing: Improving Confidence with Self-Care Management in Postoperative Thoracolumbar Spine Patients

Patients undergoing thoracic or lumbar spine surgery often lack confidence with self-care management of symptoms contributing to disability - including pain, lack of sleep, depression and immobility. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine whether a targeted motivational interview, focused on evidence-based recommendations to manage postoperative symptoms related to surgery, would improve patient confidence with self-care management of their symptom-related disability. Based on the results, Kimberly and her colleagues found that motivational interviewing is a beneficial intervention for health professionals to incorporate into practice to encourage the implementation of various health promoting behaviors that improve confidence with self-care management of symptoms in postoperative thoracolumbar spine patients.

Sherri Aufderheide, DNP-RN, NEA-BC, ACM

Improving Interdisciplinary Communication Using the Microsoft Teams Software Application

Cost of care is directly impacted by successful transitions of care. Collaborative management of patients plays an important role in supporting care coordination. Providing interdisciplinary teams with strong tools to support good communication is an important aspect of success. Sherri conducted a study in which participants from various sites of care who are supporting the same patients used an existing business tool in the form of the Microsoft Teams application. Based on the results, Sherri found that several aspects of collaboration and perceived level of connections among patients had improved, proving that the ability to leverage business tools currently in use to support patient care and make quality transitions has the potential to provide quick wins for healthcare systems.

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