Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Dana Leach


Novice nurses (NNs) are entering critical care environments with limited knowledge, skills, and decision-making expertise. They are expected to care for complex patients in a dynamic healthcare setting. The research question for this project examined whether NNs improve their knowledge and skills by participating in a nursing decision-making skills curriculum. The purpose of the project was to develop and validate a nursing decision-making skills education curriculum working in an intermediate critical care unit. Taba's instructional theoretical model was used to guide the new curriculum development along with current evidence based practice found in the current literature. Scaffolding approach theory encouraged the use of more knowledgeable peers or educators to assist NN with skill acquisition. Project participants consisted of 5 local learning specialists in critical-care nursing with a minimum of a bachelor's of science degree in nursing as well as national certifications. Upon curriculum review completion, each of the 5 specialists were asked to complete a 5-point Likert scale survey to evaluate the content of the newly developed curriculum. Descriptive analysis was completed on the survey data. Three of the 5 learning specialists agreed and 2 strongly agreed that the program met its stated objectives. Three of the learning specialists strongly agreed and 2 agreed that the course content was relevant to NNs' day-to-day roles and that the material and resources facilitated the development of decision-making skills. Adjunct NN education may promote positive social change by providing an effective strategy for improving decision-making skills among NNs, potentially leading to improved patient outcomes in a healthier community with a skilled healthcare workforce.