Unfolding Case Studies: Improving Nurse Practitioner Students’ Self-Efficacy

Published:September 09, 2022DOI:


      • Unfolding case studies can be used by faculty to increase nurse practitioner student self-efficacy.
      • Unfolding case studies can be used by faculty to assess diagnostic reasoning and critical thinking skills.
      • Unfolding case studies allow faculty to create and map assignments to competencies


      Faculty use evaluative methods to assess students’ mastery of nurse practitioner competencies but seldom assess students’ self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is one’s belief that an activity can be competently performed, consequently having a positive impact on clinical performance. Graduating students may not feel confident in their ability to manage patients who require frequent treatment changes necessary to manage acute illness and exacerbation of chronic disease. Nurse practitioner students enrolled in their last adult-gerontology primary care didactic course were invited to participate in a study assessing their self-efficacy after completing a mandatory unfolding case study assignment. The participants demonstrated increased self-efficacy in several domains.


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      Both authors are at the School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Natalie R. Baker, DNP, ANP-BC, GNP-BC, CNE, is an associate professor, and can be contacted at [email protected] , and Kala K. Blakely, DNP, NP-C, is an assistant professor.