1. Bradshaw, Molly J.

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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students are required to complete an evidence-based project as part of completion of this clinical doctorate. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN, 2015), students must first identify a population of interest, evaluate health problems for that population, and implement an evidence-based solution for the identified gap. Churches and other faith-based organizations are well positioned as partnering agencies. These organizations offer ready access to populations and an infrastructure for support, in a setting where people feel secure, comfortable, and emotionally supported. DNP students also can practice population-focused health assessment while being exposed to the faith community nurse role that they may later choose to pursue. Here are some practical tips for conducting DNP projects in the faith-based setting.

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1. Conduct a Needs Assessment. Students may have assumptions about the health needs of those at the church, whereas the church leadership may want specific topics covered based on their interactions in prayer, support, and giving. Validate needs with a formal needs assessment. A simple paper survey, focus group, poll, or SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) ensures that the project addresses the needs of both the population and the organization.


2. Obtain Organizational Support in Writing. After discussing the project concept with stakeholders, secure support initially through an email or letter that can be followed by a formal agreement. Students should refer to their university instructions for further details on the Institution Review Board process. It is imperative to meet the organizational expectations of both the university and the faith-based organization.


3. Be Aware of Inclusion, Exclusion, and Vulnerable Populations. Students should consider the nature of the intervention and determine what participants should be included or excluded. For example, does the participant need to be a member of the church? What if a family member wants to accompany a participant? How will students accommodate vulnerable populations, such as children or the elderly?


4. Coordinate Interventions with Church Activities. To assure maximum participation, plan interventions to coincide with regular church services. For example, meet 30 minutes before or directly after services. Consider substituting a DNP project intervention for a midweek church meeting (Eugene, Williams-Gregory, & Bradshaw, 2018). Events generally are well attended when they occur during or immediately after regular church events.


5. Sustain the Project as a Ministry of the Church. The AACN (2015) states that DNP projects should be sustainable. Students may consider transforming the project into a more permanent ministry. DNP projects are more sustainable if implemented in the church the student attends regularly, as he or she may continue to serve as the project leader.


6. Student versus Faculty Beliefs. In the faith context, students may experience barriers if faculty do not share their religious beliefs or understand the students' religion. Some knowledge may be necessary to ensure the best collaborative environment. Christian faculty can encourage students that they need not feel embarrassed about their faith, focusing on Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes" (NIV).


7. Keep the Intervention Grounded in God's Word. DNP projects in a faith-based setting have potential to promote physical health and spiritual growth. Help participants make connections between health and faith (Adelukan & Bradshaw, 2017), such as exercise to encouraging, Christian music.


Faith-based organizations can be strong clinical partners for population health by collaborating in DNP projects. Students gain understanding about integrating health and healing with the faith and culture of those they are serving, whereas members of the faith-based setting receive needed health promotion and services.


Adelukan E., Bradshaw M. (2017, June). Developing a faith-based health intervention to target sodium intake and physical activity. Presentation at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Conference, Philadelphia, PA. [Context Link]


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2015). The Doctor of Nursing practice: Current issues and clarifying recommendations. Retrieved from[Context Link]


Eugene M., Williams-Gregory M., Bradshaw M. (2018, April). Using psychological interventions to address diabetes distress in a faith-based setting. DNP Poster Session presented at Rutgers University, Newark, NJ. [Context Link]