Healthcare Leadership – master's thesis topics and themes 2023

Published: 20.12.2023 / Publication / Blog

In the dynamic and ever-changing realm of healthcare, leadership on all levels is a critical and necessary aspect that is required to enable healthcare organisations to fulfil their purpose of caring for others and improving health status within societies (Ledlow, Bosworth & Maryon, 2023). Amidst the rapid technological changes, as well as the challenges in staff shortage and new working environments, the need for adaptive, visionary leadership is more critical than ever (Fagerdahl et al., 2022). Consequently, academic education and professional development on leadership topics, training and development are critical to enhancing healthcare leadership in practice, organisational and societal contexts (Marcellus et al., 2018).

The objective of this blog post is to present the themes and topics of the most recent master's thesis studies conducted within the master's degree programme Healthcare Leadership (formerly Leadership in Nordic Healthcare) at Arcada University of Applied Sciences. All master students within the program are required to conduct a 30 ECTS master's thesis development and research project with the aim of developing healthcare leadership. The project gives the student the possibility to specialise according to their own leadership interests.

In the master's thesis Leaders solving ethical digital dilemmas in healthcare, Lindewall (2023) examines the fast-evolving field of digital healthcare, with an aim to uncover, identify and address the several ethical dilemmas that leaders need to face when introducing and implementing digital solutions in healthcare. As an overall statement, Lindewall (2023) acknowledges that the positive impacts of digitalisation generally outweigh the negatives, and most ethical challenges have suitable and functional solutions. However, given the rapid development of digital healthcare new dilemmas will arise, which will pose new challenges for healthcare leaders, as digital healthcare becomes not only more widespread, but it is expected to become the new normal in the healthcare sector (Lindewall, 2023)

Jose Lanithottam (2023) examines transformational leadership in nursing during organisational changes, specifically focusing on the Ostrobothnia welfare area in Finland. The thesis investigates what roles nurse leaders adopt during fusion processes and mergers, and what the associated strengths and challenges of these roles are during these. Using semi-structured interviews, Jose Lanithottam's (2023) study identified the influential, intellectual, motivational, and considerate role of the nursing leaders in leading the change process and the strengths and challenges of each role they prefer during the ongoing change processes. Understanding these different types of working traits is an advantage in leadership, especially when confronted with a change process and in preserving the workforce to implement the vision of the organisation (Jose Lanithottam, 2023)

In their thesis Preceptors' experience on their support and training at the pediatric and adolescent clinic - Turku university hospital Lifländer and Ylinen (2023) explore training and support for preceptors (defined as experienced and skilled professionals providing guidance, instruction, and mentoring to less experienced individuals) in the VARHA (The wellbeing services county of Southwest Finland) Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Turku University Hospital in Finland. Their study aims to evaluate existing preceptorship training, assess preceptors' perceptions of its adequacy, and identify the training needs of preceptors. Lifländer and Ylinen (2023) found that while most preceptors value precepting and find it beneficial, many are unaware of available training programs and desire more training and support in their roles. The key concerns that Lifländer and Ylinen (2023) identified were insufficient training, limited supervisor support, and inadequate time allocation for effective precepting, underscoring the need for improvements to ensure quality patient care in the face of staffing challenges. Additionally, the study identified that preceptors seek greater involvement and resource allocation from supervisors and healthcare leaders. Lifländer and Ylinen (2023) conclude, that it is critical for healthcare leaders to adjust the workload for preceptors, ensuring that preceptors have enough time enables them to conduct their work, as this can ensure that new healthcare professionals are well-integrated and committed.

The thesis Learning leaders lead learning: Exploring future healthcare leadership competencies in the context of change by Ehn and Eklundh (2023) investigates the competencies healthcare leaders need amidst global changes like technological advancements, demographic shifts, and economic challenges. The focus of the study lies on welfare countries in Northern Europe, Australia, and Canada. The study emphasises the necessity of updated leadership skills for ensuring not only patient safety, but also workforce well-being, an ever more important aspect (Ehn & Eklundh, 2023). Ehn and Eklundh (2023) identified a broad skill set that healthcare leaders need to possess, including the ability to lead oneself and engage others, the skill to achieve results and develop coalitions as well as knowledge of system transformation and the ability to navigate complexity. As a conclusion, Ehn and Eklundh (2023) find that the role of the learning leader becomes increasingly essential within healthcare as the field is undergoing significant transformation and facing a multitude of challenges and changes.

The topic of Leadership has also been studies from a communication perspective. In their study Leadership Strategies in resolving communication challenges among Internationally Educated Nurses: A Literature Review, Warburg and Tuominen (2023) set out to identify what strategies or leadership styles nursing leaders or managers employ to resolve issues with communication challenges with internationally educated nurses, as well as if there are specific strategy that works solely for communication issues and challenges in the case of internationally educated nurses. As Warburg and Tuominen state (2023) state, in nursing, leadership and communication are vital, especially for internationally educated nurses facing language and cultural barriers, and there is a need for leaders to help these nurses overcome communication challenges. The study identified various strategies, such as mentorship and collaborative leadership, but no universal solution. Therefore, nurse leaders must tailor their support to each nurse's specific needs (Warburg and Tuominen, 2023). As the amount of internationally educated nurses working in, for instance the Nordic countries, is rising, this leadership topic becomes even more important.


As can be seen, the current state of themes and topics in healthcare leadership studies on a master's degree level reveals several interesting areas of ongoing inquiry, addressing various aspects of leadership. These topics are also in line with broader healthcare leadership themes identified by others, such as transformational leadership, impact of leadership on nursing retention and job satisfaction, educational strategies for nurse leaders, technology and nurse leadership, and diversity and inclusivity in nursing leadership (van Diggele et al. 2020; Ledlow et al., 2023; Marcellus et al., 2018). What these studied hopefully contribute to, is a deeper understanding of the role of leadership in the ever-evolving healthcare landscape. Moreover, they hopefully can aid in transforming healthcare leaders from mere administrators to catalysts of change and visionaries.

I would personally like to thank all students for their hard work, and their efforts in developing healthcare leadership.

Jonas Tana, Ph.D., Degree Program Director, Healthcare Leadership master’s degree program, Arcada UAS.


van Diggele, C., Burgess, A., Roberts, C., & Mellis, C. (2020). Leadership in healthcare education. BMC medical education, 20, 1-6.

Eklundh, J. & Ehn, M. 2023. Learning leaders lead learning: Exploring future healthcare leadership competencies in the context of change. Arcada UAS. Available at: Extern länk External link

Fagerdal, B., Lyng, H. B., Guise, V., Anderson, J. E., Thornam, P. L., & Wiig, S. (2022). Exploring the role of leaders in enabling adaptive capacity in hospital teams - a multiple case study. BMC health services research, 22(1), 908.

Ledlow, G. R., Bosworth, M., & Maryon, T. (2023). Leadership for health professionals: Theory, skills, and applications. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Lifländer, M. & Ylinen, S. 2023. Preceptors’ experience on their support and training at the pediatric and adolescent clinic - Turku university hospital. Arcada UAS. Available at: Extern länk External link

Lindewall, W. 2023. Leaders solving ethical digital dilemmas in healthcare. Arcada UAS. Available at: Extern länk External link

Jose Lanithottam, J. 2023. The Transformative Role of Nursing Leaders in Mergers and Acquisitions within the Ostrobothnia Welfare area. Arcada UAS. Available at: Extern länk External link

Marcellus, L., Duncan, S., MacKinnon, K., Jantzen, D., Siemens, J., Brennan, J., & Kassam, S. (2018). The Role of Education in Developing Leadership in Nurses. Nursing leadership (Toronto, Ont.), 31(4), 26–35. Extern länk External link

Warburg, C. & Tuominen, J. M. 2023. Leadership Strategies in resolving communication challenges among Internationally Educated Nurses: A Literature Review. Arcada UAS. Extern länk External link

Can Machine Learning aid in finding key factors to improve the Finnish healthcare system?

Finland is in the process of change in our health care system. The Nordic well-fare system is challenged in Finland, for instance, due to difficulties in attracting nurses, changing demographics in Finland, and a general pressure to reduce costs in the whole public sector. This poses severe challenges for the entire healthcare sector. Can Machine Learning (i.e., the subfield of Artificial Intelligence, which focuses on having a machine imitate intelligent human behavior) be used to understand relationships between different critical properties of our healthcare system? Yes, it can! An excellent example of how this can be done is found in a scientific paper by Hu et al. (2020), where the authors investigated nurses' willingness to report errors in a specific geographical area of the US.

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