Tag Archives: ideas


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.


One idea would be to conduct a quality improvement project at the medical facility where you work. For example, you could focus on improving patient outcomes for a particular diagnosis or medical condition. You would research best practices and develop an evidence-based intervention aimed at enhancing care processes or the standard of care. Some options may include implementing a new screening or assessment tool, developing an education program for patients or staff, creating a standardized treatment protocol, or utilizing technology like telehealth in a new way.

As part of your project, you would need to gather baseline data on the current outcomes and develop measurable goals for improvement. Then you would implement your intervention and evaluate the impact over a designated time period, analyzing post-intervention data to determine if your goals were met. The project should utilize nursing theory and leadership skills to strategically plan and execute the change. Your final paper would thoroughly document the evidence and steps taken, and reflect on the successes and limitations experienced. If successful, the quality improvement could potentially be sustained in your organization.

Another strong option would be to explore a topic related to nursing education through a program evaluation or curriculum development project. For instance, you may analyze the effectiveness of teaching methods or clinical placements in your nursing program by developing surveys for students and faculty. Based on the feedback and research, you could then design revisions to strengthen areas identified as opportunities. Alternatively, you could create an entirely new continuing education module, online course, or simulation experience for practicing nurses on an emerging healthcare issue.

The proposed changes would need to be supported by relevant literature and align with accreditation standards. Your role would be obtaining necessary approvals, implementing the educational intervention, and assessing outcomes such as knowledge gained, skill enhancement, or perceived impact on nursing practice. Besides reporting the evaluation results, your completed capstone would provide recommendations for integrating lessons learned on a longer-term basis. By addressing a real need in your university or health system, the project has potential to positively influence nursing education.

Nursing research is another broad category that lends itself well to capstone topics. You may choose to perform a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods study related to your specialty area. Some examples could be exploring nurses’ perceptions of a workplace issue through surveys and interviews, evaluating a relationship between nursing interventions and patient outcomes over time, or pilot testing an innovative care model to manage a health condition.

The research process would involve developing a well-articulated purpose statement and aims, creating a thorough literature review, obtaining necessary approvals from your Institutional Review Board, implementing planned recruitment strategies and data collection methods, analyzing quantitative and qualitative findings, and interpreting results within the scope of current evidence. Your final report would discuss how the new knowledge can advance nursing practice or be built upon in future scholarship. Conducting an original research study allows for making a scholarly contribution while strengthening critical inquiry skills.

A policy analysis could also serve as a relevant capstone project. You might examine an existing law, regulation, clinical practice guideline or position statement influencing nursing and healthcare delivery. Through legislative records review, evaluating stakeholder perspectives, and comparing to supportive research, you would aim to understand both intended and unintended consequences of the policy since implementation. Based on gaps identified, the analysis could then inform recommendations for revisions or areas requiring further monitoring and evaluation.

Besides implications at the organizational level, well-designed policy work sheds light on real world issues impacting patient outcomes and the nursing profession as a whole. Your policy paper would need to utilize an approved framework and have potential to influence future decision making if shared with stakeholders. Tackling a current clinical or systemic problem through policy change aligns well with nursing leadership and systems-based competencies.

The key aspects of a strong capstone project involve systematically planning and executing a scholarly work that addresses a relevant nursing practice or healthcare delivery issue. While topic ideas may vary, components such as a literature review, application of theory, development or evaluation of an intervention, data collection and analysis, discussion of results and conclusions all help demonstrate mastery of MSN program outcomes. Regardless of specific focus area, the depth, rigor and applicability of your final written report is what ultimately signifies preparedness for advanced nursing practice at the graduate level. With sufficient preparation and faculty guidance, the preceding examples provide a starting point for selecting a meaningful capstone experience.


Implementing an Obesity Management Program in Primary Care

The prevalence of obesity is rising steadily, leading to increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Primary care clinics often lack resources and programs to properly manage obesity. For this project, you could develop an evidence-based obesity management program for implementation in a primary care setting. This would involve creating evaluation and treatment protocols, educational materials for patients, training materials for staff, and processes for ongoing patient monitoring and support. You would implement the program in the clinic over 6-12 months, collect data on participant outcomes like weight loss and biometric measures, and evaluate the program’s effectiveness.

Promoting Preventive Screening Services

Many preventive screening tests are underutilized, missing opportunities for early disease detection. For this project you could focus on improving one specific screening rate like colorectal cancer or cervical cancer screening. Activities may include assessing current screening rates, identifying barriers to screening, developing interventions like patient reminders and education, provider prompts, and reducing structural barriers. The program would be implemented over 6-12 months and data collected on screening rates before and after to evaluate impact. Qualitative data from patients and providers could also provide insight into successes and areas for improvement.

Managing Chronic Conditions through Group Visits

Group visits are an alternative model of care that has shown success in managing chronic diseases long-term. For this project, you could implement a group visit program for a specific condition like diabetes or hypertension. Activities would involve developing standardized group visit curricula, protocols, and scheduling; training facilitators; recruiting and enrolling eligible patients; and conducting the visits. Outcome data on clinical indicators, self-management, and patient satisfaction could be collected and compared to traditional individual visits. A qualitative evaluation from patients and providers would also assess acceptability and areas for refinement of the group visit model.

Implementing a Telehealth Program

Telehealth expands access to care, especially important in underserved rural areas. For this project, you could implement a telehealth program using videoconferencing technology for remote specialty consultations or regular primary care follow-ups. This would involve selecting a specialty to partner with (e.g. dermatology), assessing needed equipment and IT infrastructure, developing workflows and staff training, identifying eligible established patients, conducting initial telehealth visits over several months, and evaluating the program’s impact on access, outcomes, costs and patient/provider satisfaction compared to usual care. Data collection tools would need to be developed to comprehensively assess program outcomes.

Improving Transitions of Care from Hospital to Home

Readmissions are common after hospitalization, often due to gaps in care coordination and management of complex medical and social needs. For this project, you could work to reduce 30-day readmissions for a specific high-risk patient population like heart failure patients. Activities may include developing standardized discharge protocols, embedding a transitional care nurse or pharmacist in the hospital, implementing home visits within 3 days of discharge, ensuring timely follow-up appointments are scheduled, and use of telemonitoring if available. Collecting readmission rates before and after implementing these interventions could determine the program’s effectiveness at improving transitions of care and reducing readmissions.

Standardizing Treatment of a Chronic Condition

Practice variation in screening and management of conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia is common. To address this, you could develop evidence-based treatment protocols and clinical practice guidelines for one particular chronic disease tailored to your practice setting. This would involve an extensive literature review to identify best practices, formatting protocols in an easy to use manner, developing tools to monitor adherence, evaluating current treatment patterns, implementing the protocols over time, and collecting data on clinical outcomes to see if standardizing care improves quality metrics. Provider and patient surveys could provide insights into adopting evidence-based protocols into daily practice.

Each of these potential capstone project ideas are strongly evidence-based, aim to implement quality improvement programs focused on either disease prevention, chronic disease management, or care coordination – which are all priorities in primary care. The draft proposals provide realistic planning and timelines over 6-12 months, outline important process and outcome metrics to measure success, and emphasize collecting both quantitative and qualitative data. Implementing any of these programs in a primary care clinic setting could demonstrate a DNP graduate’s advanced competencies in developing, implementing, and evaluating an evidence-based practice change initiative.


Project Title: Implementing a Cardiac Rehabilitation Telehealth Program to Improve Access and Outcomes

Background: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Regular participation in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs after a cardiac event has been shown to significantly reduce mortality and hospital readmissions while improving quality of life. Despite the documented benefits, nationally only 15-30% of eligible patients complete a CR program. Barriers to participation include lack of accessible programs, transportation difficulties, costs, and work or family constraints. Telehealth offers an innovative solution to expand access by allowing remote monitoring and participation in CR. More evidence is still needed on the efficacy and best practices of telehealth-based CR.

Project Goals: The goals of this capstone project are to:

1) Implement a telehealth-based CR program allowing remote participation and monitoring for patients at my clinic who are unable to attend onsite sessions.
2) Evaluate the impact of the telehealth CR program on outcomes including program adherence/completion rates, readmission rates, quality of life, and cardiac risk factors after 6 months.
3) Identify best practices and lessons learned from implementation to refine the telehealth CR program.

Methodology: This project will follow a quality improvement framework. In the planning phase, I will conduct a comprehensive literature review on telehealth-based CR. I will identify an evidence-based telehealth platform and prototype virtual sessions. In collaboration with CR nurses, exercise physiologists, and an IT specialist, we will develop protocols for remote monitoring, exercise prescriptions, education modules, and technical/user support.

In the implementation phase, I will train the CR team on the telehealth program. We will enroll 30 English and Spanish-speaking patients referred to CR but unable to attend onsite. Written consent will be obtained to participate and be evaluated. At baseline and 6 months, I will collect data on clinical variables, quality of life (Minnesota Living with Heart Failure and Short Form-36 surveys), and program usage/satisfaction through interviews. Virtual sessions will include exercise training, education on lifestyle/medication management, and peer/staff support twice weekly for 6-12 weeks. Continuous remote monitoring tools will track activity, vital signs, weight, and symptoms.

In the evaluation phase, I will analyze clinical and survey outcomes to assess the impact of telehealth CR compared to usual care. Readmission rates will be obtained from medical records. Patient interviews will identify barriers/facilitators. Using a predetermined analytic plan, I will evaluate if telehealth improved adherence rates by at least 10% and reduced readmission rates by 5% compared to usual care. If successful, qualitative findings will help determine best practices to refine and disseminate the program model. Limitations, unexpected findings, and implications for future research will also be discussed.

Anticipated Outcomes: This innovative capstone project has the potential to demonstrate telehealth is an effective strategy for increasing CR access and participation among underserved patients. If telehealth CR improves outcomes compared to usual care, it could serve as an evidence-based model for wider implementation. By addressing barriers and promoting remote support, more patients may experience the life-saving benefits of rehabilitation after a cardiac event. This work aligns with my goals as a cardiology nurse to advance quality, equitable care through application of research and technologies.


Sentiment analysis of movie reviews: You could collect a dataset of movie reviews with sentiment ratings (positive, negative) and build a text classification model in Python using NLP techniques to predict the sentiment of new reviews. The goal would be to accurately classify reviews as positive or negative sentiment. Some popular datasets for this are the IMDB dataset or Stanford’s Large Movie Review Dataset.

Predicting housing prices: You could obtain a dataset of housing sales with features like location, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, square footage, age of home etc. and build a regression model in Python like LinearRegression or RandomForestRegressor to predict future housing prices based on property details. Popular datasets for this include King County home sales data or Boston housing data.

Movie recommendation system: Collect a movie rating dataset where users have rated movies. Build collaborative filtering models in Python like Matrix Factorization to predict movie ratings for users and recommend unseen movies. Popular datasets include the MovieLens dataset. You could create a web app for users to log in and see personalized movie recommendations.

Stock market prediction: Obtain stock price data for companies over time along with other financial data. Engineer features and build classification or regression models in Python to predict stock price movements or trends. For example, predict if the stock price will be up or down on the next day. Popular datasets include Yahoo Finance stock data.

Credit card fraud detection: Obtain a credit card transaction dataset with labels indicating fraudulent or legitimate transactions. Engineer relevant features from the raw data and build classification models in Python to detect potentially fraudulent transactions. The goal is to accurately detect fraud while minimizing false positives. Popular datasets are the Kaggle credit card fraud detection datasets.

Customer churn prediction: Get customer data from a telecom or other subscription-based company including customer details, services used, payment history etc. Engineer relevant features and build classification models in Python to predict the likelihood of a customer churning i.e. cancelling their service. The goal is to target high-risk customers for retention programs.

Employee attrition prediction: Obtain employee records data from an HR department including demographics, job details, salary, performance ratings etc. Build classification models to predict the probability of an employee leaving the company. Insights can help focus retention efforts for at-risk employees.

E-commerce product recommendations: Collect e-commerce customer purchase histories and product metadata. Build recommendation models to suggest additional products customers might be interested in based on their purchase history and similar customers’ purchases. Popular datasets include Amazon product co-purchases data.

Travel destination recommendation: Get a dataset with customer travel histories, destination details, reviews etc. Engineer features around interests, demographics, past destinations visited to build recommendation models to suggest new destinations tailored for each customer.

Image classification: Obtain a dataset of labeled images for a classification task like recognizing common objects, animals etc. Build convolutional neural network models in Python using frameworks like Keras/TensorFlow to build very accurate image classifiers. Popular datasets include CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100 for objects, MS COCO for objects in context.

Natural language processing tasks like sentiment analysis, topic modeling, named entity recognition etc. can also be applied to various text corpora like news articles, social media posts, product reviews and more to gain useful insights.

These are some ideas that could be implemented as data analytics projects using Python and freely available public datasets. The goal is to apply machine learning techniques with an understandable business problem or use case in mind. With projects like these, students can gain hands-on experience in the entire workflow from data collection/wrangling to model building, evaluation and potentially basic deployment.