Date of Award


Document Type

DNP Project


School of Nursing

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Melinda Nwanganga

Second Advisor

Denise Soccio

Third Advisor

Claude Parola



While nurses are often on the front lines of working with patients with a history of substance use disorders (SUD), most have limited training in this area. Nurses who work in Long Term Care (LTC) settings are often challenged to resolve the practical issue of needing more competency in caring for SUD patients. Horner et al. (2019) agreed that the deficiency of mental health knowledge and skills in healthcare workers is linked to decreased quality of care, which can diminish patient outcomes. This lack of competency must be addressed (Margoliese & Vandyck, 2019).


The goal of this project is to innovate care management that enhances SUD patients’ care through clinical competencies and mental health skills by improving the mental health nursing competency of nurses working with SUD patients at the long-term geriatric units at a Psychiatric Hospital in the state of Massachusetts. A guided four-week mental health training was provided to registered nurses and measured with a pre and post assessment. This intervention was measured to appreciate any change in the participants' level of mental health competency. -- Method. This study used a quasi-experimental design, a pre-post design with one focus group, to evaluate the mental health competency of nurses working with SUD history patients. The Clinical Competency of Mental Health Nursing (CCMHN) checklist was used to ensure the trustworthiness of this project. The tool measured the nurses' mental health competency before and after the educational training. This tool required the project facilitator to observe participants in their tasks at work before and after the intervention. The sample was obtained through the convenience sampling method.


The Clinical Competency Evaluation of Mental Health Nursing (CCHMN) used in this study was found to be valid and reliable. The SPSS-27 t-score showed significant results post-intervention. A paired sample t-test was conducted to compare the pre- and post-intervention observation. The results showed a significant positive correlation between 0.842 and 0.945. The paired t-test further showed that participants experienced increased competency across the four-week program. This indicates that the program was successful in achieving its desired outcome.


Although the sample size was small, data suggested that mental health nursing training was beneficial in increasing the mental health nursing competency among nurses in a LTC facility. Similar investigations could be undertaken with larger sample sizes to generalize the outcomes to wider groups of psychiatric nurses and the nursing profession.

Subject Area

Nursing; Substance abuse--Patients; Psychiatric nursing; Long-term care facilities