Paper Type

Doctoral Project


Brooks College of Health

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Nursing

First Advisor

Dr. Pamela S. Chally

Second Advisor

Dr. Lillia M. Loriz

Third Advisor

Dr. Carol Ledbetter

Department Chair

Dr. Carol Ledbetter

College Dean

Dr. Pamela S. Chally


In an era of value based purchasing and healthcare reform, hospitals face the challenge of delivering high quality care in an environment of diminishing resources. This performance improvement project describes the use of master’s prepared nurses on medical surgical units to improve quality and patient satisfaction. The setting was five medical surgical units in a 200+ bed hospital in the southeastern United States. Declining resources necessitated an increase in the nurse to patient ratios on the units (from 5:1 to 6:1). The project involved the modification of the model of care through the change in nurse/patient ratios and the addition of master’s prepared nurses to coordinate and supplement the care of the staff RNs for complex patients. While inconclusive, the literature review confirmed the impact of master’s prepared nurses on quality metrics and did not conclusively confirm that delivering high quality, safe care was not possible with nurse/patient ratios of 1:6. The goal of the project was to determine if the presence of the master’s prepared nurse could mitigate the changes in ratios and produce high quality and satisfaction outcomes. Measures of success were drawn from archived standardized quality measures in the realms of service (HCAHPS questions), patient safety (CABSI, HAPU) and quality outcomes (core measures and 30 day readmissions). The project design was a retrospective, one-group pre-post design looking at two six-month intervals—before and after project implementation. Results demonstrated sustained or improved quality in six of ten measures. Highest positive impact was in readmissions and nurse sensitive indicators. The most negative results were in patient satisfaction. Modifying the model of care is an iterative process requiring continued evaluation and changes to improve outcomes. Results of this project supported the further evaluation of staffing and expansion of the number of master’s prepared nurses on medical surgical units.