Home School of Public Health Phd position in digital health and health systems


Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is a broad-based university with a technical-scientific profile and a focus in professional education. The university is located in three cities with headquarters in Trondheim. At NTNU, 9,000 employees and 42,000 students work to create knowledge for a better world.

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD position in the field of digital health and health systems at the Department of Health Sciences in Ålesund (IHA). The period of employment is for three years (100%).

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree.  The position is financed by the Department of Health Sciences in Ålesund. The doctoral work will be linked to the project “mHEALTH-INNOVATE: exploring how healthcare workers’ informal and innovative uses of mobile phone messaging apps are shaping service delivery and governance in LMICs”. mHEALTH-INNOVATE is a Research Council of Norway-funded project that brings together researchers from NTNU, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), Makerere University in Uganda, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the University of Oslo, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Healthcare Information for All network (HIFA).

The project aims to explore how innovative informal uses of mobile phones, including messaging apps, by healthcare workers can be used to strengthen health systems and inform digital health interventions in low and lower middle-income countries (LLMICs). Digital technologies are seen as an important mechanism for enhancing workforce performance, supporting implementation, advancing universal health coverage and achieving other SDG3 targets.

But while much research has focused on ‘top-down’ digital strategies initiated by researchers, governments and NGOs, far less research has explored healthcare workers’ own creative solutions. Healthcare workers in LLMICs increasingly use mobile phones, including free and accessible mobile phone messaging applications (‘apps’), to overcome clinical and health systems challenges and deliver the services expected of them.

The project will generate new evidence about how healthcare workers use these technologies, sometimes referred to as ‘shadow IT’ systems, to create innovative solutions. Further, it will explore how these innovations can be formally integrated within health systems to enhance service delivery and ultimately reduce disease burden and promote equity. The project will also examine the implications of these innovations for policy and governance.

The candidate’s main place of work will be NTNU in Ålesund, Norway but she/he may also spend time at mHEALTH-INNOVATE partner institutions during the course of the PhD. The candidate should begin by January 1, 2023.

Your immediate leader is Head of Department.

Duties of the position

We are looking for a PhD candidate who will develop their project proposal within the framework of mHEALTH-INNOVATE. The candidate’s primary focus should be on one of the following areas:

  • The implications of the use of mobile phones, including messaging apps, for governance arrangements within the wider health system – for example, examining (a) their role in promoting accountability, and (b) their implications for regulatory and legislative frameworks
  • The ways in which informal uses of mobile phones can shape the development and implementation of formal digital interventions, such as telemedicine platforms, to strengthen health systems and promote social equity, and the extent to which health systems stakeholders can build on informal approaches, and foster an innovation ecosystem

The findings of this research will make important contributions to research and debates concerning the informal uses of mobile phone platforms by healthcare workers, and the impacts of these uses for healthcare delivery and health systems governance.

We anticipate that the candidate will use largely qualitative methods in this PhD. Choice of fieldwork sites will be discussed with the successful candidate and could include LMIC settings.

Applicants must develop a short project proposal according to this template  

The candidate will be part of the Health service research-group at IHA (Helsetjenesteforskning) and will be supervised by scholars at NTNU in Ålesund and Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Collaboration with other mHEALTH-INNOVATE PhD candidates and collaborators is expected throughout the research process, and the candidate will contribute to mHEALTH-INNOVATE-related dissemination activities across the consortium. This may include short site visits to other participating partners.

Required selection criteria

  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master’s level
  • Your Masters should be in a relevant health or social sciences area (for example: public health, health services, anthropology, medical sociology) or in research methods, and you must have training and experience in social science methods, including primary qualitative research methods
  • You must have experience in the area of digital or mHealth and / or health systems and policy research, either through your Masters research or through work experience
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master’s degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty’s doctoral program
  • You must have a high level of proficiency in oral and written English

Non-Scandinavian speaking candidates need formal documentation of written and oral fluency in English. The following tests can be used as such documentation: TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE).

Minimum scores are:

CAE/CPE: grade B or A

IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS test accepted)

TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 92 (Internet-based test)

In extraordinary circumstances, formal documentation of language skills can be relinquished. In such cases, the candidate’s language skills will be assessed in a personal interview.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with  Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Preferred selection criteria

  • Experience with authoring and publishing peer-reviewed publications in the health or social sciences, or a related field

Personal characteristics

  • An ability to engage productively in cross-disciplinary teams
  • Good academic communication skills

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 491 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.
The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Health Science within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work. It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

The position is subject to external funding.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work that are relevant to the assessment should be submitted with the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include: 

  • CV and certificates
  • transcripts and diplomas for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. If you have not completed the master’s degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master’s thesis has been submitted for examination.
  • a copy of the master’s thesis. If you recently have submitted your master’s thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master’s degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • you must develop a project proposal (maximum of 2 pages excluding references)
  • name and contact information of three referees
  • a list of any relevant publications or other relevant research work

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor’s and master’s education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment – DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.

NTNU is working actively to increase the number of women employed in scientific positions and has a number of resources to promote equality. 

The city of Ålesund, with its population of 50 000, will provide you with plenty of opportunities to explore a region of Norway that is famous for its beautiful scenery with high mountains and blue fjords. Ålesund itself, with its Art Nouveau architecture, is by many considered to be the most beautiful city in Norway! The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation. You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have questions about the position, you can contact the main supervisor Simon Lewin, e-mail: [email protected]. If you have questions about the hiring process, you can contact HR consultant Unni Sletten, email: [email protected]. The supervisor team also includes Claire Glenton, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and Mads Solberg, NTNU.

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via jobbnorge.no with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. A Diploma Supplement must be attached for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of their Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must submit certified copies of transcripts and reference letters.

Application deadline: 01.09.2022

Deadline: 1st September 2022

Employer: NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Municipality: Ålesund

Scope: Fulltime

Duration: Temporary

Place of service: Larsgårdsvegen 2, Ålesund


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