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Physician Assistant Capstone Project

UMKC Physician Capstone Project Guide. MEDPA 5595 Capstone.

Identify a Topic

Your topic needs to be substantive; enough baseline information or evidence is available for a literature review or other project design. Checking multiple databases will help determine this. You may find yourself revising your topic when you start seeing what is and is not out there in the literature.  Use the 'Articles' Tab in this guide or the following resources to find baseline information:

  • Access Medicine
    Provides students, residents, clinicians, researchers and other health professionals with over 150 clinical reference and medical education resources including cases.
  • Books@OVID Clinical health sciences book collection. Allows searching topic across all books in the collection


  • This will require background research and assessment of resources to establish the specific gap or need for the project. Use the 'Books & eBooks' Tab in this guide for background materials. 
  • As you search your topic ask-Has this been done before? Does it already exist? If yes, how is this different, why do it? This will include a medical literature search and likely an internet search on reputable websites like Medine Plus from the National Library of Medicine (NLM).  The NLM has tons of reputable, free resources available for a variety of projects

Select a Project Type or Design

The project may take the form of a critical review of the literature, research study, quality improvement project, education of patients, professionals, or the community, development of a community service program, or professional advocacy. Some projects may require writing a project protocol, which is a document describing what you are going to do, for example if your project involves research (including surveys) and quality improvement. These may be needed for IRB review (see guidance in Canvas course site), they are useful to guide your project while it is being conducted, and can be used in writing the project paper.

Conducting a Search

  • Meet with a librarian. They can help you form a research question, strategize a literature review, manage your citations, and find sources for your project and paper. You may communicate by email, they are available for one-on-one video meetings, and available on campus when it is open. The librarian will not do your search for you, but will help you follow the format intended for this writing your capstone project paper. PICO is the most popular framework for establishing your project objective and to design your search strategy. 1,2

See the 'Articles' Tab on this guide to begin to search for references independently.  You may find yourself revising your topic when you start seeing what is and is not out there in the literature. Research is an iterative process. Your final search strategy will usually be different the than your first one.

Project Objective

Both the topic and purpose of the project must be clear and specific. It should be focused on a target audience, which will be reflected in the selected type or design of the project. In one statement (maybe 2) it should describe what is going to be done, who will carry it out and/or the subjects of the project, and the expected outcome. Refer to SMART objectives & PICO.

Apply FINER & SMART Criterea

  Once a topic and project design is selected and an objective has been drafted, the student should apply the FINER and/or SMART criteria (See Canvas). The student should be able to explain and defend how the project meets these criteria.

ID a Collaborator

Students should select and invite a professional to work with in development and/or implementation of the capstone project. They will need to  provide name and contact information for this individual. The collaborator’s roles and responsibilities with regard to the project must be defined.  Students will work with collaborators and  faculty mentors to receive constructive feedback and ensure timely progress on project.