Virginia Commonwealth University

Leadership Capstone Project

The Capstone project is designed to be a culmination of the leadership coursework. It is an opportunity for students to integrate concepts learned throughout the program into a project that showcases their leadership skills and impacts individuals and chosen environments. In developing the Capstone Leadership Project, each student creates a project plan on a topic about which they are passionate. Topics are developed individually and presented to faculty in a face to face session for approval. Faculty look for projects to have a clear leadership focus, and to be of high quality. With mentorship from the faculty, students plan, design, implement, and evaluate their pre-approved leadership projects. Topics may be from a student's work environment but can also focus on interests in healthcare, education, the community, or professional- or disability-focused organizations.

The Capstone Leadership Project promotes exploration of personal styles of leadership, re-examination of leadership theories, and thorough assessment and critique of the project. A written and verbal presentation of final project and the assessment of its value to the health care or education community is given during an on-campus session. The Capstone Leadership Project is in lieu of a thesis or dissertation.


What is a typical Capstone Leadership Project?

Capstone Leadership Projects are individually driven according to student interests and passions. They are diverse in content and through peer review and development, students learn about each other's leadership skills and areas of practice or interest. Sharing this process further develops our graduates knowledge about leadership.


Completed OTD Capstone Projects:

Bitgood, G.P. (2008). Rebuilding Together in Chesapeake. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Cook, M. (2010). E--mentoring: A cutting edge opportunity for professional VOTA members. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dengler, J. (2010). Improving occupational performance through community based instruction. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Desanto, Jennifer. (2009). Occupational therapy sensory integration outpatient program. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Gray, A. L. (2010). Valley Health intranet rehab connections. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Hill, L. (2008). Handwriting recovery program. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

McDaniel, M. (2010). Educational groups for seniors with visual impairments. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Martinez, C. N. (2010). Building a Community of Friends (COF): A School and Community Based Social Skills Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Michel, S. (2008). On the move: A safe patient handling training program. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Ridgway, E. (2010). Developing a role for occupational therapy in research in a multidisciplinary children's developmental clinic. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Showalter, K. (2008). An occupational therapy practice model for patients with ALS. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.

Wyrick, A. (2008). Evidence-based practice web course for school-based occupational therapists. Unpublished manuscript. Capstone Leadership Project. Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University.


What do students say about the Capstone Leadership Project?

Kelly Showalter (Class of 2008):
  I started this process having the passion, but lacking the tools and skills to harness that passion and funnel it into manageable steps to teach others. I have an increased ability to see the bigger picture and thus have become a more conceptual leader, instead of focusing solely on the tasks at hand. (Showalter, 2008, p. 22).

Lynda Hill (Class of 2008):
  I have also realized through this project that leadership is a constant. It is not a skill, trait, or personality, but includes all of these features and more. One cannot turn leadership on an off at a whim and expect to maintain these same qualities in the eyes of others who look to you in the leadership position. Leadership means that others expect a certain level of professionalism from you and continued leadership beyond a certain project.

Cynthia Normandia (Class of 2010):
  If you are looking for a venue to develop leadership skills in our professional field of occupational therapy so that you can be a more effective practitioner and/or administrator, the VCU's OTD program is an excellent choice to achieve your professional goals. VCU's OTD program, which is committed to excellence and educational scholarship, challenges and fully supports occupational therapists as they develop greater research and clinical reasoning skills. The VCU staff guides OTD students through the entire process and a strong educational community is successfully fostered and developed via this online and onsite program. As a result of this program, which I highly recommend, I have increased my administrative choices and effectiveness, my clinical reasoning and research skills, my program development skills, my leadership confidence and vision, and lastly my salary.