Students at the Bobcat Nursing program, located at the Texas State Round Rock Campus, recently completed their last capstone learning experiences as a final requirement for graduation.
Capstone is a program in which students intern at a hospital in their desired field of study. Students are required to identify an area in the department to improve upon as a way to give back to the community which offered them a position within the field.
“Our goal (for the program) is to help the student give back to an area that has provided them with the opportunity to understand how to recognize a problem, utilize evidence to solve it and then teach it to their fellow nurses,” said Mary-Margaret Finney, clinical associate professor in the school of nursing. “The projects this year were highly professional and outstanding.”
The students are required to spend 156 hours in a specific hospital setting working one-on-one with a registered nurse who has been prepared at a baccalaureate level. The project the students select must have research to support their claims, and must improve the quality of patient care and outcome.
The nursing program at Texas State is highly competitive and is ranked number two in the state. This year, 82 students completed the capstone project.
“I was placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at McLane Hospital in Temple, Texas,” said Jessica Yehl, nursing senior. “My goal was to educate nurses on how to inform the mothers about breastfeeding. It is very hard to get into this program, and we have a reputation for producing some of the best new graduate nurses in the state. I am very proud to be a part of it.”
Many of the departments at the various hospitals found the student’s work so beneficial they actually implemented their ideas for improvement into the routine of the hospital.
“The projects were so incredible to the point that several staff members at the different hospitals resulted in a change of practice,” Finney said. “The staff was greatly influenced by these nursing students and their projects.”
The capstone assignment allows students to gain knowledge in their field of study and practice problem-solving techniques while utilizing their skills in the hospital through updated protocols and programs.
“The capstone project is more or less an increase of independence for the students as this it is set up to be like a full-time job,” said Eischen Harkins, nursing senior. “My project was on stroke protocol in the ICU that was already in the process of being revised. Being able to give nurses the research as to why this protocol is important was amazing, but teaching it to nurses who have already graduated was a little intimidating. It’s good to know they will be using my research to develop a better technique.”