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capstone course, leadership, nursing education, professional identity, systems thinking



  1. Novotny, Nancy L. PhD, RN
  2. Jarvill, Melissa PhD, RN, RNC-NIC, CHSE, CNE
  3. Nielsen, Sandra D. MSN, RN, RN-BC
  4. Morris, Kathleen A. DNP, RN


Background: Nurse educators are challenged to ensure clinical education meets the changing health care environments and needs.


Problem: New nurses remain unprepared for practice, have insufficient foundational leadership capacities, and lack systems-thinking awareness.


Approach: Responding to educational gaps, increased enrollment, and scarce clinical placements, faculty used an eclectic education model to develop a new capstone leadership clinical course that included 5 types of experiences. The total acute care clinical hours were reduced, while adding leadership-focused experiences and simulated learning.


Outcomes: Stakeholders' evaluations indicate the pilot provided opportunities to strengthen students' leadership capacity, systems thinking, and professional identity while still providing sufficient practice managing care of multiple patients, engaging in teamwork, and applying evidence.


Conclusion: The new clinical course addressed students' transition into practice needs and enrollment capacity issues. Thoughtful planning by invested stakeholders, communication among faculty, and clear expectations are necessary to implement eclectic clinical models.