Date of Award


Document Type

DNP Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Henrietta Hanna

Second Advisor

Eileen Willits


Problem Statement

Offering staff development training for psychiatric nurses has not kept pace with the advances in psychiatric knowledge and skills in nursing. Purpose: The purpose of this quality improvement doctor of nursing (DNP) project was to implement a competency-based staff development program on a community hospital-based inpatient psychiatric unit to determine if the psychiatric/mental health nursing knowledge, nurse patient relational skills, and attitudes of the nurses would improve or change.


A mixed method of quasi-experimental, non-randomized pre-test/post-test and semi-structured interview design was used, which utilized a convenience sampling approach. Data were collected in two phases. Three domains of the Mental Health Learning Needs Assessment (MHLNA), a competency-based assessment instrument that allowed self-assessment by nurses was used to determine competency level of psychiatric mental health nursing knowledge and skills. Study participants completed a pre-test, using the chosen three domains of the MHLNA instrument, and participated in a five-week training program consisting of weekly sessions. Upon completion of the classes, the same three domains of the MHLNA were given as a post-test, along with three short-answer questions to determine knowledge and relational skills gained. At the end of three months, the Nurse Manager and Clinical Resource Nurse were interviewed and asked to evaluate the nursing staff based on the chosen three domains of the MHLNA. The study participants were also interviewed and asked three questions to determine if they had noticed a difference in their nursing knowledge, skills, and attitude three months after the training.


The analysis of data derived from the paired t-test indicated there was no difference in the knowledge, skills, and attitude of the participants after attending a competency-based in-service training program (p=0.05). Qualitative data analysis, however, indicated that participants reported a positive difference in their knowledge, skills, and attitude of the mentally ill, with three themes identified from comments made by the participants. Significance: The results may serve as a basis for quality improvement in patient-centered care and on-going staff development training for the nurses on the community hospital-based inpatient psychiatric unit.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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