Goals for Nursing Capstone: A Comprehensive Guide


A nursing capstone is a culminatory experience that allows nursing students to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities in a real-world setting. Capstone projects can vary widely in scope and focus, but they typically involve conducting research, developing a plan, and implementing the plan to improve patient care or nursing practice.

Setting SMART nursing capstone goals is essential for ensuring that your capstone experience is successful and meaningful. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Here are some examples of SMART nursing capstone goals:

  • Clinical goal: Improve patient assessment skills by accurately identifying all relevant signs and symptoms in 100% of patients within 2 minutes of entering the room.
  • Professional goal: Develop a professional nursing portfolio that includes evidence of my skills and competencies in all areas of nursing practice.
  • Academic goal: Conduct a scholarly research project on the impact of a new nursing intervention on patient outcomes and present my findings at the capstone conference.
  • Personal goal: Develop confidence in my ability to provide safe and effective nursing care to all patients.

Clinical Goals

Clinical goals for your nursing capstone should focus on developing and improving your clinical skills. Here are some examples:

  • Improve patient assessment skills by accurately identifying all relevant signs and symptoms, conducting a thorough physical exam, and collecting a comprehensive patient history.
  • Develop skills in evidence-based practice by identifying, evaluating, and implementing the best available evidence to guide patient care.
  • Enhance critical thinking skills by applying nursing knowledge and skills to assess patient situations, make clinical decisions, and develop interventions.
  • Gain experience in nursing leadership and management by delegating tasks, supervising other nurses, and participating in unit-wide decision-making.
  • Improve communication and collaboration skills by effectively communicating with patients, families, other healthcare professionals, and members of the interdisciplinary team.
  • Become more proficient in specific clinical skills, such as wound care, medication administration, or intravenous therapy.

Professional Goals

Professional goals for your nursing capstone should focus on developing your skills and knowledge as a professional nurse. Here are some examples:

  • Develop a professional nursing portfolio that includes evidence of your skills and competencies in all areas of nursing practice.
  • Prepare for the NCLEX-RN exam by studying for the exam and taking practice tests.
  • Network with other nurses and healthcare professionals by attending professional conferences and events, joining online communities, and reaching out to nurses who work in areas of interest to you.
  • Research potential job opportunities by searching online job boards, talking to nurses who work in different settings, and attending career fairs.
  • Develop a plan for professional development by identifying areas where you want to grow and develop, and setting goals for how you will achieve those goals.

Academic Goals

Academic goals for your nursing capstone should focus on demonstrating your academic knowledge and skills. Here are some examples:

  • Complete all capstone assignments and projects on time and to a high standard.
  • Conduct a scholarly research project on a topic related to nursing practice.
  • Present findings at a capstone conference or forum.
  • Write a capstone paper or thesis.
  • Graduate with honors.

Personal Goals

Personal goals for your nursing capstone should focus on your personal development as a nurse. Here are some examples:

  • Develop confidence as a new nurse by taking on new challenges, seeking feedback from experienced nurses, and celebrating your successes.
  • Increase self-awareness and professionalism by reflecting on your practice, identifying areas for improvement, and setting goals for personal growth.
  • Learn to balance work and personal life by developing effective time management skills, setting boundaries, and making time for self-care.
  • Develop a strong support network by connecting with other nurses, mentors, and family members who can provide support and guidance.


Setting and achieving SMART nursing capstone goals is essential for a successful transition from student to professional nurse. By carefully considering your clinical, professional, academic, and personal goals, you can develop a capstone experience that is both meaningful and valuable.

Tips for Success in Achieving Your Nursing Capstone Goals

  • Start planning your capstone early, so that you have enough time to complete all of the requirements and achieve your goals.
  • Discuss your goals with your capstone instructor or mentor to get their feedback and support.
  • Be flexible and willing to adjust your goals as needed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your instructors, mentors, classmates, or other nurses.
  • Celebrate your successes along the way!


Q:What if I don’t know what my nursing capstone goals should be?

If you’re not sure what your nursing capstone goals should be, start by reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses as a nursing student. What areas do you feel most confident in? What areas do you want to improve? Once you have a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, you can start to brainstorm specific goals that you want to achieve during your capstone experience.

You can also talk to your capstone instructor or mentor for guidance. They can help you to identify goals that are realistic and achievable, and that will help you to grow and develop as a nurse.

Q:How do I get started on my nursing capstone project?

The first step in getting started on your nursing capstone project is to choose a topic. Your topic should be something that you’re interested in and that you’re passionate about. It should also be a topic that has some relevance to nursing practice.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, you need to develop a research question. Your research question should be specific, focused, and answerable. It should also be something that you can realistically investigate within the scope of your capstone project.

Once you have a research question, you can start to develop your literature review. Your literature review should synthesize the existing research on your topic and identify any gaps in the literature.

Q:How do I manage my time effectively during my nursing capstone?

Managing your time effectively during your nursing capstone is essential for success. Here are a few tips:

  • Create a timeline for your project and stick to it as much as possible.
  • Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.
  • Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
  • Prioritize your tasks and focus on the most important ones first.
  • Take breaks when you need them, but don’t procrastinate.
  • Ask for help from your instructor, mentor, classmates, or other nurses if you need it.

Q:How do I deal with stress during my nursing capstone?

Stress is a normal part of the nursing capstone experience. However, it’s important to find healthy ways to manage your stress levels. Here are a few tips:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation.
  • Talk to someone you trust about your stress levels.

Q:What are some common mistakes that nursing capstone students make?

Here are a few common mistakes that nursing capstone students make:

  • Not starting planning early enough.
  • Not setting clear goals.
  • Not managing their time effectively.
  • Procrastinating.
  • Not asking for help when they need it.

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