The Nursing Project Approval Council (NPAC): Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How to Submit Your Project

Part I. Overview of NPAC

What is NPAC?

The Nursing Project Approval Council (NPAC) is an MSHS council made up of nurses and nurse leaders from throughout the system.

Why was NPAC created?

The purpose of NPAC is to ensure that projects are compliant with local and federal regulations governing data privacy and the protection of human subjects. NPAC is also intended to clarify which projects require Institutional Review Board (IRB) review.

Who should submit to NPAC?

All nurse-led evidence-based practice (EBP), quality improvement (QI), and research projects in the Mount Sinai Health System must be reviewed by NPAC before they begin.

When should projects be submitted to NPAC?

Projects should be submitted to NPAC before they begin. While initial NPAC review is provided quickly (approximately 2-3 week turnaround), project leaders may be required to make revisions or submit the project for review by the IRB, which is a longer process. To avoid delays, project leaders are encouraged to submit as soon as possible in advance of the project start date.

Where do I submit my project for NPAC review?

Projects are submitted via REDCap© using this link. Detailed information about what to submit is provided below.

How does NPAC work?

NPAC reviews each project using standardized criteria to ensure that (1) the project has been approved by leadership in the unit or department where it will be conducted, (2) the project has a clear and safe data storage plan, and (3) the project team has completed the required MSHS training for safe data handling.

NPAC then uses the Evidence-based Practice, Quality Improvement, and Research: What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter? to determine whether the project qualifies as research that will require IRB review. After the review is complete, the project lead will receive (1) a letter of approval indicating that the project is approved as EBP or QI and can begin immediately, (2) a letter indicating that the project is research and approved to begin once it has completed IRB review, or (3) a request for clarification or revisions so that an accurate determination can be made.

NPAC reviews are open, meaning that project teams are invited and encouraged to attend the meetings in which their projects are reviewed. This allows project teams to provide additional detail and clarification to reviewers in real-time. Please note that anyone can attend NPAC meetings as an observer to learn more about the process. If you are interested in observing a meeting or serving as an NPAC member, please email

Part II. Submitting your project for NPAC review

Projects are submitted for NPAC review using REDCap© via this link.

The following documents are required for all project submissions:

  • CITI certificate – Please read our guide CITI Training: Course Requirements and Site Navigation for detailed instructions on how to complete this requirement
  • Project proposal – Please download and follow the NPAC Proposal Template 
  • Letter of support from nursing leadership on the unit where you will perform the project
  • Supporting documents that will be used as part of your project, such as surveys, interview or focus group guides, educational materials, or data collection tools, if applicable.

If your project is school-based (e.g., DNP project, dissertation research) the following documents are also required:

  • Letter of approval from your advisor or committee stating that you have successfully defended your project proposal
  • Letter from the IRB or other appropriate review body at your school* stating that they have approved your project (*unless your school requires MSHS to review first, in which case, this requirement is waived)

Part III. Frequently Asked Questions

Should I contact the IRB if I am planning a project?

No! The benefit of NPAC is that you do not need to contact the IRB unless NPAC refers your project for IRB review. If your project is referred for IRB review, NPAC will help guide you through that process. Please see our guide titled Submitting Your Project to the IRB  for more information about submitting to the IRB.

Do I need to have a physician or doctorally prepared nurse on my project team?

For EBP and QI projects that do not require IRB review, you do not need a physician or doctorally prepared nurse on your project team.

For projects that are referred for IRB review, the IRB requires that an Icahn School of Medicine faculty member be listed on the protocol. CNRI nurse scientists are faculty members who can serve in this capacity.