Tips for Tackling a Holistic DNP Project

As an active or aspiring holistic nurse, you’re already willing to test creative solutions to improve systems and resolve problems. The research and evidence-based practice you gain from a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program will help you further implement purposeful and sustainable change.

A DNP program prepares you to: 

  • Analyze and evaluate the foundation for practice.
  • Advocate for enhanced healthcare policy.
  • Collaborate with professionals in other disciplines.
  • Create innovations for prevention of disease and improvement of population health.
  • Improve the quality of nursing practice.
  • Grow as a leader in your field.

As soon as you begin your DNP program, you will likely need to start planning your DNP project. 

What is a DNP project?

A DNP Project is a scholarly work designed to translate evidence into practice through planning, implementation, and evaluation. It combines existing research and an original project that contributes to the nursing field. It is relevant to the nursing field as practiced in the past, present, or potential future. 

If you’d like to focus on a holistic DNP project topic, here are some tips to help you be successful. 

You can — and should — be creative with your holistic DNP project topic. 

Your choice of topic is nearly limitless. 

Here are some example topics that could work great with a holistic or integrative focus:

  • Health and wellness coaching for lifestyle intervention
  • Integrative tools for caregivers
  • Addressing post-operative pain
  • Improving the quality of life for nurses
  • Nonpharmacological anxiety management alternatives 
  • Identifying obesity barriers
  • Combatting caring and compassion fatigue
  • Type 2 diabetes prevention
  • Methods for addressing emotional needs of patients
  • Diversity in healthcare
  • Alternative medical systems (acupuncture, homeopathy, and chiropractic care)
  • Music therapy for dementia patients

Once you’ve picked a DNP project topic, then the real fun begins. 

Identify and get approval for immersion opportunities as early as possible.

All DNP programs require immersion hours toward your DNP project. For example, 1000 immersion hours are required for the Doctor of Nursing Practice at Aspen University

You can complete supervised hours in a variety of settings such as:

  • Acute care facilities
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Sub-acute and ambulatory care organizations
  • Holistic health clinics
  • Healthcare service support organizations such as insurance companies, pharmaceutical organizations, care coordination services, clinics, home-based care facilities, nutrition and wellness counselors

Immersion activities will vary per your site and project. Activities will relate directly to your project and  may include:

  • Attendance of courses, classes, seminars, conferences, meetings, webinars, and interviews
  • Researching
  • Active professional shadowing
  • Collaboration with other disciplines
  • Client education and care
  • Data analysis
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Leveraging technology to support the project
  • Dissemination of findings

All DNP projects are evidence-based. While a library of holistic research and studies do exist, peer-reviewed resources are more scarce than those that cover more traditional practice topics. Get ahead of this issue and identify those conferences, webinars, interviews, and shadowing opportunities right away.

Be mentally prepared to be among few peers taking a holistic focus with their DNP project. This can be a very good thing. 

Depending on your DNP program of choice, you may be one of only a few nurses taking a holistic approach to your DNP project. You have an immediate opportunity to showcase the value of holistic and integrative nursing ideas and influence how these types of ideas are received in the future. 

You might even be among the first holistic topics ever presented to that school. Wouldn’t that be something special? Embrace being a trailblazer. 

Utilize strong communication skills regularly

This might sound simple, but it can be easy to get stuck in your own world when it comes to being a busy working nurse enrolled in an online program. 

Your advisors, instructors, and the rest of the DNP project team are there to support you. Use them. If a program isn’t known for providing top tier support, run. Run as fast as you can. 

Ask questions. Ask lots of questions. 

Enter meetings with an open mind, collaborate on ideas and be willing to accept feedback. You do not need to have all the answers right away. Your DNP project will evolve, and that won’t be accomplished all alone. 

Many nurses around the world support practicing integrative person-centered, relationship-based care in partnership with traditional practice. Earning your DNP is a fantastic way to learn, research, and present new ideas to your peers. Do you dream of being a nurse entrepreneur? Want to make a change within the nursing industry? Your DNP project can be the catalyst for major advancement. 

Guest author Sam Boone is a content specialist for Aspen University. She is passionate about learning and producing valuable resources that empower others to enhance their lives through education. Aspen University offers CCNE accredited programs at every degree level. Aspen created affordable degrees and 0%-interest payment plans with transparent pricing so that nurses can focus on courses, not the fine print. 


  • Lisa December 30, 2020 8:13 am

    The integration of holistic nursing is very much needed in the nursing profession. The DNP provides a great opportunity to bring awareness of the impact holistic nursing has to the nursing profession.

    • Dominique Fontaine February 12, 2021 4:36 pm

      Thank you for the positive comment Lisa! We agree it’s a great nursing practice opportunity 🙂

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