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Clinical Hours Guidelines

Guidelines for Clinical Hours for the Post Masters DNP

The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) requires a minimum of 1000 hours of clinical practice post baccalaureate degree. This means clinical hours from the masters and DNP combined must equal at least 1000 hours. These hours must be approved by the course faculty, supervised by a preceptor, and recorded. Generally, nurse practitioners accumulate approximately 650 hours of clinical during the master’s degree and therefore require 350 during the DNP program.

To accommodate different clinical hour needs, the clinical courses have a range of credit options from 1 credit to 3 credits and 6-8 credits. Each credit requires 45 hours of clinical practice over the semester.

There are three clinical seminars in the DNP program. The first seminar focuses on leadership and role transition. The second seminar focuses on the cultural immersion experience, and the third seminar focuses on preparation for the DNP Project. During these three seminar courses 90 (for 1 credit) to 270 (for three credits) clinical hours are accumulated. The last two courses in the DNP program (the DNP Residency Courses), offer 6 to 8 clinical credits (three to four credits for each course) which provide another 270 to 450 clinical hours. These hours are used to demonstrate proficiency in the area of DNP course content as well as to complete the DNP Project.


The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) has a two semester residency. These two courses are designed to allow the DNP student to use the skills and knowledge acquired during the DNP courses in a practice setting. The residency is usually completed in the area where the DNP project will be completed but may be completed in a different setting with the approval of the Project chairperson. Students must have a preceptor in the clinical area and must keep a log of clinical hours. Each semester of residency requires a short paper that highlights the objectives of the course, how these objectives fit with the overall DNP objectives and how the objectives were met by the student. 

Doctor of Nursing Practice Project

The DNP Project is the culminating product demonstrating the use of knowledge and skills learned during the DNP program to improve the health and well-being of a group of people or advance healthcare in a meaningful way. Students will begin to explore options for the DNP Project during the seminar courses as they review current evidence related to an identified health care problem or concern. During DNP Seminar 1, the student will identify an idea for the project and choose an appropriate committee chair person. One other member of the project committee must be a community member interested with expertise in the identified area. The committee chair must approve the other committee member.

The committee chair will work closely with the student to develop the DNP Project Proposal. This proposal will include:

1. Identification of the challenges/problems leading to the proposed project
2. Description of the project and how it addresses at least one challenge/problem that influences health care for a significant number of people.
3. Identification of the role of the DNP to address the challenge or problem
4. Review of current literature regarding the problem or challenge to be addressed
5. Description of the setting where the project will be completed with a timetable
6. Resources required to complete the project including a budget and technology requirements.
7. A project evaluation plan including specific measures that will be evaluated during the project. This evaluation plan includes evidence-based outcomes.

The DNP Project Proposal will be approved by all members of the project committee prior to the student beginning the project. All DNP Projects must be approved by the Florida Atlantic University DNP Program Committee. Once committee approval has been obtained, the student will implement the capstone project and begin evaluation of the project’s proposed outcomes.

Upon project completion, the student will submit a written project paper to be evaluated by the project committee. The committee must approve the final written paper prior to graduation from the DNP program. The written paper should include:

1. The background and significance of the problem.
2. What is already known or has been tried to solve the problem.
3. Design and implementation of the project, including, the population, why this population was chosen, the intervention implemented, and the length of time from implementation to evaluation.
4. The evaluation method used – validity and reliability of the method, how and when it was implemented. Results of the evaluation.
5. Implications for nursing, nurse administrators, nurse practitioners, the healthcare system, or educators as they apply to your project. Any limitations or problems you encountered in implementing your project.
6. A conclusion with a short review of the project, evaluation and outcomes.

An oral presentation of the DNP project will be the concluding activity of the capstone experience with the DNP curriculum. The oral presentation of the project will be scheduled after the DNP written paper has been approved by the committee. A presentation day will be scheduled each semester at which all students who are ready will present their projects. The presentation provides the DNP candidate with the opportunity to demonstrate his or her expertise in the area of the study. The committee members must be present at the oral presentation.

The oral presentation will include the following information:

1. Statement of the problems/situations/opportunities that precipitated the project.
2. The project aims and objectives
3. A brief description of the project itself including the time frame and project phases
4. Results of the project evaluation. Include key facilitators that made the objectives achievable and the key barriers. Include unforeseen consequences of the project both positive and negative.
5. Discussion of the evaluation plan including evidence based measures.
6. Identify recommendations. Should the project be adopted, adapted or abandoned?
7. Discussion of student’s growth as a leader and clinician as a result of this experience.

After the presentation the DNP candidate will respond to oral questions from the group. Upon successful completion of the written and oral presentations the Candidate is eligible for graduation to become a DNP.