Tag Archives: administration


The Impact of Medicaid Expansion on Population Health Outcomes: Many states have opted to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. For this project, you could evaluate the effect of Medicaid expansion on key population health outcomes like mortality rates, rates of preventable hospitalizations, management of chronic conditions, and access to care. You would need to choose a state that expanded Medicaid and a comparison state that did not expand to conduct a quantitative analysis of health data pre- and post-expansion. This could provide insights into how public policy decisions around Medicaid directly impact population health.

Role of Community Health Centers in Improving Access to Care: Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) like community health centers play an important role in providing primary care to underserved communities. For this project, you could assess the impact of new or expanded FQHCs on measures of healthcare access in the surrounding community such as rates of uninsured, number of primary care visits, use of emergency departments for non-emergency needs, timeliness of appointments, etc. through analysis of public usage data. Qualitative research like interviews with center administrators and patients could also provide insights into how FQHCs meet the needs of their target populations and how public policy could better support their mission.

Evaluating Childhood Vaccine Exemption Policies: In recent years, some states have enacted laws tightening exemptions that parents can claim to opt children out of required school vaccinations. For this project, you could do a comparative case study analysis of different state exemption laws to identify features associated with higher vs. lower overall rates of vaccine exemption. Qualitative research through interviews could explore stakeholder perspectives on these policies. You could then make recommendations on how states may strengthen vaccine mandate laws to balance public health and individual freedoms. Appropriate use of vaccines is a prime example of how public policy directly impacts health outcomes.

Improving Care Transitions to Reduce Hospital Readmissions: Reducing preventable hospital readmissions is a major policy priority and financial burden for the healthcare system. For this project, you could partner with a local hospital to evaluate its current care transition process and suggest evidence-based improvements grounded in best practices from the literature. For example, you may recommend integrating more home visits by nurses/community health workers post-discharge, embedding pharmacists in the transition process, improving communication of discharge plans to primary care providers, engaging patients and families more actively in self-management, etc. Quantitative analysis of hospital data could then measure impact of implemented changes on readmissions rates. This connects health administration practice with policy goals.

Exploring Impact of Social Determinants on Population Mental Health: Where people live, learn, work, and play impacts health in major ways. Social and economic factors like poverty, education, housing stability, food security, environmental hazards are strong determinants of mental health and illness in communities. For this project, you could conduct both quantitative and qualitative research in a community heavily impacted by social problems to better understand how underlying determinants shape mental health outcomes. Analysis of population-level data along with resident interviews/focus groups could then inform targeted policy recommendations to address root causes through interventions in housing, education, employment support, community development and more. Addressing social determinants is a growing public health policy priority.

Assessing Regional Approaches to the Opioid Epidemic: The opioid overdose crisis requires a multi-pronged public health response that extends beyond addiction treatment into safer prescribing, prevention, harm reduction and enforcement. For this project, you could evaluate differences in strategies and outcomes across states or regions using a mixed-methods approach. Quantitative analysis could measure impacts on overdose rates, NAT deaths, prescribing behaviors while qualitative research involves interviews with those implementing programs. A comparative case study analysis could then highlight promising practices and policies working in some areas but not others to inform a more coordinated, evidence-based response across levels of government.

In each case, the capstone would thoroughly explore relevant background, methodology for data collection and analysis, results and discussion of key findings, and conclusions with specific recommendations for public policy improvements. There are endless opportunities to address important healthcare challenges through policy-oriented research and projects that advance the goals of population health and health systems administration. With sufficient depth and methodological rigor, such a substantial policy-focused paper could serve as a valuable capstone experience.


Capstone projects are a key component of most healthcare administration degree programs as they provide invaluable real-world experience to students before they graduate and enter the job market. These large-scale projects give students the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have learned throughout their studies to solve an actual problem or address an issue facing a healthcare organization. In the process, capstone projects benefit both students as well as the broader healthcare system in several important ways.

For students, capstone projects are a chance for them to gain hands-on experience taking on the type of complex management or strategic challenges they will likely encounter in their future healthcare careers. By working directly with a healthcare organization, students get exposure to the inner workings and day-to-day operations of facilities like hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, or public health departments. They also develop valuable soft skills like communication, critical thinking, project management, and leadership that are essential for success in healthcare administration roles. Having a substantive capstone project to highlight on their resume also gives students a competitive edge when job or graduate school applications. Perhaps most importantly, these projects allow students to apply classroom concepts in a real-world setting which deepens their learning and better prepares them to transition into the workforce.

In addition to benefiting students individually, capstone projects provide tangible value back to the healthcare organizations that host them. Host sites are able to leverage the dedication, fresh perspectives, and technical skills of driven students to take on projects that may otherwise go unaddressed due to busy schedules and limited internal resources. Examples of capstone projects undertaken for healthcare facilities include strategic plans, quality improvement initiatives, program evaluations, needs assessments, marketing campaigns, process improvement projects, and more. By dedicating resources to a capstone, organizations gain actionable insights and solutions related to some of their most pressing operational, financial, or patient care challenges. Some capstone projects have even led to the creation of new programs or services that genuinely improve patient outcomes and community health.

On a broader level, capstone projects also benefit the entire healthcare system. As future healthcare leaders and administrators, capstone experiences help ensure students graduate with applicable skills that align with the evolving needs of the industry. By taking on substantial projects that tackle real issues, students develop an in-depth understanding of the complex healthcare environment and the types of systemic problems facing providers, payers, and communities. They also establish valuable industry connections that can lead to job opportunities or collaborations after graduation. With each capstone completed, the healthcare system gains well-trained new graduates that hit the ground running, instead of requiring costly on-the-job training. This accelerates their contributions and helps alleviate workforce shortages in administrative roles.

There is also evidence capstone projects improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare administration. A study published in 2020 found female and minority students were more likely to use their capstone experience to address social determinants of health, cultural competency, or barriers marginalized groups face in accessing care. By surface these important issues, capstones helped sensitize a new generation of future leaders and shift the industry culture. Capstone hosts that serve vulnerable populations gain project outcomes centered on empowering underserved communities and reducing disparities.

The strategic application of classroom theories, development of practical skills, and cultivation of authentic healthcare experience capstone projects provide, substantially benefits both students as well as the larger healthcare sector. By connecting classroom to career and addressing real-world problems, capstones play a pivotal role in training innovative leaders ready to advance healthcare through sound administration and management. Both healthcare organizations and communities benefit from the fresh perspectives and solutions generated through years of student dedication to these high-impact culminating projects.


The first step in conducting an organizational assessment is to gain support and approval from organizational leadership. You will need permission to assess different aspects of the organization in order to complete your capstone project. Prepare a proposal that outlines the purpose and goals of the assessment, how results will be used, and what data you need access to. Obtaining buy-in from leadership early on is crucial.

Once you have approval, the next step is to review existing organizational data and documents. Examine key documents like mission/vision statements, values, strategic plans, budgets, policies/procedures, reports, and metrics. This background information will help you understand how the organization currently functions and identify any gaps. Some examples of documents to review include annual reports, financial statements, organizational charts, personnel records, committee minutes, accreditation reports, patient satisfaction surveys, and quality improvement data.

In addition to document review, you will need to conduct interviews with key stakeholders. Develop an interview guide with open-ended questions that explore topics like organizational structure, culture, processes, resources, leadership, internal/external challenges, and quality improvement initiatives. Interview leaders from different departments to gain diverse perspectives. Audio record interviews if possible for accurate analysis later. Typical stakeholders to interview include nursing directors, unit managers, physicians, quality officers, human resources personnel, and advanced practice providers.

You should also observe day-to-day operations and frontline workflows to assess the real-world functioning of the organization. Obtain permission to shadow staff, sit in on meetings, and observe delivery of care. Make detailed field notes about the physical environment, employee interactions, workflows, use of technology, and workflows. Observations allow you to identify any disconnects between documented processes and actual practice.

After completing document review, interviews, and observations, the next step is to analyze all the collected data. Transcribe and thoroughly review all interview recordings and field notes. Use qualitative data analysis techniques like open coding to identify common themes in the stakeholders’ perspectives. Analyze organizational documents and strategic plans for central themes as well. Look for alignment or disconnects between different data sources.

Based on your comprehensive data analysis, develop conclusions about organizational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for improvement, and any threats. Assess key areas like structure, leadership, culture, finances, quality improvement efforts, human resources, community relationships, and strategic positioning. Benchmark performance using available metrics and standards from comparable organizations. Identify specific gaps or barriers to optimal functioning that could be addressed.

Your final step is to develop well-supported recommendations based on your assessment findings. Propose tangible actions the organization can take to build upon its strengths and resolve weaknesses or threats. Recommendations should address specific issues uncovered in your analysis and be evidence-based. Outline an implementation plan with timelines, responsibilities, and required resources. Present your full organizational assessment report, including conclusions and recommendations, to organizational leadership. Offer to assist with implementing suggestions to improve operations and outcomes.

The organizational assessment process I have outlined systematically examines an organization from multiple angles using triangulated qualitative and quantitative data sources. If conducted thoroughly for a nursing administration capstone project, it provides deep insight to drive meaningful recommendations for continuous quality improvement. The assessment process requires obtaining full cooperation and access within the organization under study. Presenting conclusions and recommended actions developed through this rigorous assessment benefits the students’ learning as well as organizational effectiveness.


Implementing a Virtual Private Network (VPN):
A large project would involve setting up a VPN server and clients to allow remote access into an organization’s internal network. This would require installing and configuring VPN server software like OpenVPN on an internal server. The student would then need to obtain appropriate certificates, set up user accounts and authentication, configure firewall rules, test connectivity over the internet, and document the entire setup. Performance testing under various usage loads could also be assessed. Troubleshooting unintentional outages would provide real-world experience.

Implementing an Enterprise-Grade Firewall:
This project involves installing and configuring an enterprise-grade next-generation firewall like Cisco Firepower or Palo Alto to protect an organization’s perimeter. Tasks include hardware/software installation, initial configuration, defining security policies, creating rules for traffic inspection and filtering, integrating with directories for user/device authentication, load balancing traffic, setting up VPN or SD-WAN capabilities, high availability/failover, and reporting/monitoring. Thorough testing is critical to ensure policies work as intended under various scenarios. Logs and change management must be documented.

Implementing an Active Directory Domain:
For a medium-large network, a student could deploy Microsoft Active Directory on Windows Server. This involves installing domain controllers, integrating them with DHCP and DNS, defining organizational units and group policy objects, creating user and computer accounts, permissions, security groups, and login scripts. Certificate services and federation with partners could expand the project scope. Upgrades, backups, HA, and disaster recovery plans increase complexity. Extensive documentation and testing deliver a production-ready directory service.

Deployment of a Software-Defined Wide Area Network:
A advanced project is to design and deploy an SD-WAN connecting multiple branch offices using virtualized network overlays. Tasks involve requirements gathering, network assessments, equipment selection, configuration of SD-WAN controllers and edge devices, setting up routing/security policies, traffic steering, application definitions, performance monitoring, central management, and demonstrating how policies adapt to topology/link changes. Integration with existing MPLS or internet links adds complexity.

Configuration of a Private Cloud:
Building a private OpenStack cloud involves procuring servers, installing hypervisor software, creating networks and subnets, deployment of controller/compute/storage nodes, configuring authentication, defining flavors/images, creating virtual machines, implementing high availability and backup solutions, conducting stress/failure testing, documenting processes, and demonstrating utility/value. Additional services like load balancing, identity federation, automated scaling increase depth.

Design of a Large Campus Network:
For a large-scale project, a student could analyze requirements, prepare detailed designs, bill of materials, and documentation for all network, computing and security infrastructure needed across a sizable campus environment. The project would include core/distribution/edge switching designs using hybrid technologies, comprehensive wireless LAN planning, switching/routing protocols for redundancy, robust SDN and software strategies, virtualization, security zones and systems, unified communications, video surveillance, building management, and more. Crew training, implementation, testing and change management deliver a turnkey solution.

These provide in-depth examples of potential capstone projects that network/systems administration students could undertake to showcase their skills. The projects require extensive planning, design, implementation, documentation, testing and troubleshooting – hitting all the key areas expected of real-world job roles. Choosing projects that are sufficiently large in scope yet manageable delivers a meaningful learning experience to cap off a degree. Completing one or several such projects provides compelling evidence of skills and preparedness to potential employers.


Business Plan Development – A popular capstone project involves developing a full business plan for a business concept of the student’s choosing. The plan would include all aspects such as an executive summary, company overview, products/services, market analysis, competitive analysis, operations plan, management team, organizational structure, marketing and sales strategy, funding requests, financial projections, and appendices. This allows students to research and plan all critical aspects of launching a new business from scratch.

Business Consulting Project – For this type of capstone, students are paired with a small to medium-sized actual business and tasked with providing consulting recommendations to help the business improve in a certain area such as increasing sales, improving operations, planning for expansion, evaluating marketing strategies, assessing financial performance, recommending process improvements, developing human resources strategies, and more. Students must research the client business, industry, and key issues before developing an actionable report with insights and data-driven recommendations.

Social Innovation/Social Entrepreneurship Project – This involves the development of a new business or nonprofit organization designed to help address social issues or environmental problems. Students identify a social issue they want to help solve, conduct research on the problem and potential solutions, develop an innovative concept for a social venture, and provide a full implementation plan. While potentially generating revenue, the primary goal is to generate social impact.

New Venture Feasibility Analysis – For this project, students evaluate the potential commercial viability of launching a new business concept that introduces an innovative product, service, or business model. They research market and industry conditions, analyze customer needs and problems, assess competitive landscape, evaluate the technical and operational feasibility of the concept and business model, forecast financial projections under different scenarios, and determine the overall strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks. The final deliverable includes a “go/no go” feasibility recommendation.

Process Improvement Project – This involves working with an actual business to identify opportunities for improving an operational process through reengineering or streamlining. Students work with management to select a process to focus on, conduct a current state process mapping and analysis, identify constraints, redundancies, inefficiencies and issues through methods like root cause analysis, develop recommendations for improving or redesigning the process, and provide an implementation plan. This allows them to recommend measurable operational changes.

Strategic Planning Project – For this capstone, students assume the role of a business’ top management team, thoroughly analyze their company’s internal and external environment, evaluate alternative strategies, and develop a 3-5 year strategic plan complete with detailed multi-year goals, objectives, strategies and tactics across key business functions including marketing, operations, finance and human resources. They prepare and present the plan to stakeholders followed by an explanation of strategic performance monitoring and control systems.

Mergers & Acquisitions Project – In this project, students take on the role of a corporate development executive or consultant tasked with evaluating potential merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunities for their client firm. They research the industry, screen for suitable target companies, conduct thorough due diligence on 2-3 top targets, analyze each acquisition’s strategic and financial fit, valuation, cost/benefits, risks and implementation challenges. They provide a formal recommendation on one target including an integration plan and post-M&A performance forecasts.

These represent some common examples of in-depth capstone projects that allow business administration students to apply the functional business knowledge and skills they have gained throughout their program. The key aspects of a strong capstone involve selecting a meaningful project that allows for independent and comprehensive research, rigorous analysis, and the development of actionable, solution-oriented deliverables that benefit an external organization or address an important issue. An effective capstone provides students the opportunity to demonstrate their command of the field while solving real-world business problems.