Date of Graduation

Fall 12-14-2018

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Nancy P. Taquino


By December 2018, a large integrated health system’s Nurse Scholars Academy (NSA) will have financially-sponsored 64 registered nurses to return to school through a strategic academic-practice partnership program at the University of San Francisco (USF). Referred to as ‘Nurse Scholars,' health system employees elected to return-to-school through NSA. As a five-year initiative, NSA was at risk for not receiving additional funding beyond 2020 without a thorough outcomes analysis that articulated the outcomes to executive leadership.

This health system employs more than 23,000 registered nurses in Northern California (NCAL). The NSA is a region-wide effort to accelerate academic progression, leadership development, and nursing professional development for strategic groups of Registered Nurses (RNs). NSA oversees disbursement of health system sponsored tuition assistance to Nurse Scholars at strategic academic partners in the United States.

The intervention included the development of an instrument to assist with measuring academic-practice partnership impact. Completed in three plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles, the intervention was tested and refined over five months. To summarize the findings, the project produced an executive dashboard for executive leadership.

Quantitative measures included employee retention, the benefit of financial help to students, and measurable examples of professional development. Qualitative measures derived from survey responses were analyzed to identify the impact of completing a change-in-practice project, capacity for future leadership, and observed change in professional maturity.

The first PDSA cycle tested the Nurse Scholar survey, and 67% of eligible Nurse Scholars responded. Results were positive, with each outcome measurement goal met except for survey response rate and professional certification rate. Employee retention was 95%. Promotions or additional responsibility assigned to a Nurse Scholar occurred in 62% of students. Certification rate for Nurse Scholars was 81%. Nurse Scholar dissemination was 33%. Both groups unanimously agreed that the degree program had a positive impact on their professional maturity. Degree completion rate overall was 100%. In addition, 85% of Nurse Scholars agree or strongly agree that financial assistance impacted their ability to enroll in and complete a degree program. The second PDSA cycle refined the survey and improved the distribution method. The final PDSA cycle developed a summary for executive stakeholders and identified next steps for sustainability.

This project established baseline data, engaged stakeholders and developed a foundation for NSA to identify program outcomes and share them with executive leadership. Survey questions and data collection processes were optimized. This project illuminated a need for additional research that examines the quantifiable clinical/financial/patient impact of individual Nurse Scholar projects on their respective micro, meso, or macro systems. Finally, longitudinal outcomes of Nurse Scholars would be of future interest to fully understand the health system’s return-on-investment in sponsoring tuition and human resources for the academic-practice partnership to occur.