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Nursing- Legacy: MSN Projects

Created by Health Science Librarians


PLEASE NOTE: As of Spring 2018, there is a new scholarly product expected from 992/993 students that will replace the projects listed on this guide.  Please review the guidelines in the MSN Student Handbook.

Completing your MSN at UNC

Sample Activities

Organizational or Policy Analysis Paper (Printable Guidelines for a Policy Analysis Paper)

An organizational or policy analysis paper focuses on either an organizational problem analysis, or a more generalized policy analysis of a significant health issue. The problem-solving model allows a student to conduct an in-depth exploration of an organizational or policy situation to develop an understanding of the internal and external influences.

The paper should include a description of the situation, the history of policy development including problems that prompted the development of the policy, an examination of the evidence base for the policy, how the policy was implemented, and conclusions including recommendations about the policy’s utility. Example: A policy analysis in which a current or pending health policy is analyzed from two or more perspectives.

Research Practicum with a Final Report (Printable guidelines for the MSN Paper/Research Practicum)

Students may participate in a supervised research practicum under the guidance of a School of Nursing graduate faculty member. This guided individual research experience directs students to develop research skills that further their understanding of knowledge generation, translation, and/or dissemination.

The purpose of the practicum is to develop research skills through engagement with an active research project. The activities of the practicum will involve participation in multiple aspects of the research process, for example: 1) writing literature reviews; 2) developing proposals; 3) developing IRB proposals 4) recruiting and consenting participants; 5) collecting/generating data; 6) analyzing data; or 7) developing presentations and papers disseminating research findings and functioning as a member of the research team.

The student and School of Nursing graduate faculty supervisor will develop meaningful written objectives for the practicum. The student is expected to spend 60 hours actively participating on the project. The practicum will culminate in a 10 page technical report (bibliography not included in the 10 page limit) addressing the objectives and the experience overall.

Performance or Quality Improvement Practicum Option (NURS 992 Master's Paper: Practicum Experiences)

 This practicum option is a guided learning experience to provide a student the opportunity to work collaboratively with a SON faculty on evidence-based performance or quality improvement opportunities. Sixty hours (60 hrs.) of practicum time is only a portion of the effort for this option. It is recommended that students maintain a time log for preparation and the actual hands-on participation with the project team. N992 is a 3-credit course and will require approximately 2-‐3 hours of independent work per week for each unit of credit. It many cases you will need to enroll twice in N992 to fulfill the requirements of this option; please check with your committee chair. If you have any questions about this option, please see the Program Director.

Performance or quality improvement projects need to be associated with a clinical setting that involves or affects patient care. The SON faculty member who is the Chair of your committee must be the project director or directly involved with the project. The project should include stakeholders from different backgrounds (e.g., nursing, medicine, public health), but is not required. The responsibility of the Committee Chair will be to guide the learner in identifying a potential project, coaching the student on the use of improvement methodologies, orienting the student to the health care setting if needed, and managing relationships within the health care setting.

From the MSN Master's Paper Guidelines

MSN Project Guidelines

Students work collaboratively with a SON faculty member to develop an evidence-based product consistent with the mission of the School of Nursing and tenets of the Carolina Core. The final product is an opportunity for students to use a reflective, ethical, and scholarly approach to advance nursing practice1.

A practicum provides an experiential learning opportunity, guided by the faculty, which allows students to apply evidence-based practice to address an identified need or problem.  The activity can be a variety of options (e.g. development of educational modules, needs assessment, pilot studies, research activities, literature review, or case analyses).

The master’s scholarly product is guided by reflection, informed by a critical review of literature relevant to the discipline of nursing and the student’s chosen advanced practice area.  The product should be analytic in nature, grounded in theory and research. A review of literature is essential in providing rationale and significance of the problem and discussion of the “who, what, where why and how.”

Sample Activities

Case Study Analysis (Printable Guidelines for a Case Study)

A case study analysis provides nurses in clinical and non-clinical roles with examples of possible solutions to challenging problems in clinical practice or systems of health care delivery. There are two options for the case study analysis: (a) a Clinically Focused Case Study, or (b) a Health Care Systems Focused Case Study. Students can select the option that best fits their overall goals. For example, nurse practitioner students could elect to do a health care systems focused case study related to their practice site.

Research Paper (Printable Guidelines for a Research Paper)

This scholarly activity focuses on a research question or hypothesis (or set of research questions or hypotheses) and seeks to answer the question or hypothesis through scientific testing using one of several research designs. Research endeavors may involve primary data collection, which may be both expensive and time-consuming. Serious consideration should be given to identifying existing and readily available data sets.

Examples of research projects include (but are not limited to):

(a) A secondary analysis, that is, a research activity involving analysis of data already collected to address a specific problem. These data may be acquired by the student’s participation in a faculty investigator’s research project or using pre-existing data sources, such as medical records.

(b) An integrative review of literature that addresses a particular research question. This option involves systematic data collection and analysis (of the literature), and produces an integration of the results in written form. See the Printable Guidelines for an Integrative Research Review for more details.

(c) Research utilization or change projects provide students with the opportunity to integrate knowledge, scholarly inquiry and leadership to address a problem in practice. The research utilization project may focus on such things as the development of a research-based clinical protocol, or the evaluation or testing of a standardized protocol. A change project may also include a quality assurance review of some area of practice.

State of the Science Clinical Paper (Printable Guidelines for Clinical Paper)

This paper reviews current knowledge about a particular issue of concern in practice. The paper should address a relevant practice question, and use the literature to analyze the clinical problem and develop a management strategy that synthesizes consensus and conflict in the literature, and the exploration of a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic modalities.

The goal of the clinical paper is to identify, review, and analyze a challenge, dilemma, or controversy in clinical practice from the perspective of advanced nursing practice. The analysis of clinical problems and development of management strategies necessitates a comprehensive understanding of underlying pathophysiology (if applicable), consensus and conflict in the literature, and the exploration of a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic modalities.

The key for selecting an appropriate subject for the Clinical Paper are the words, ‘challenge’, ‘dilemma’, or ‘controversy’. The final paper builds on the proposal, which provides the basis for clinical recommendations and/or a protocol if appropriate.

From the MSN Master's Paper Guidelines