Skip to main content

Featured Faculty: Dr. David Liss

Dr. David Liss, PhD teaches a student-favorite course, The US Healthcare System in the Fall for the MS in Health Communication program. He is also a Research Associate Professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern, where his research seeks to test and evaluate new models of high-value primary care delivery.

Moving to an online environment this year due to the pandemic, Liss optimized his course by providing asynchronous videos that led to live discussions on Saturdays to provide meaningful conversations. “I was pleasantly surprised by how often we had engaging small-group discussions. During each synchronous session we had about 40 minutes where we broke out into small groups. This format fostered much more student-led discussion than we’ve had in prior years; it was really enjoyable.” Though the online format had its benefits, Liss “missed seeing my friends and colleagues in person, and especially the informal conversations that improve my quality of life and the quality of my work.”

Like many of us, Dr. Liss remained busy during the pandemic, maintaining his teaching commitments while continuing to publish research findings. While this year has been difficult, finding ways to de-stress is key. “I practice self-care by getting some outdoor exercise nearly every day, rain or shine. During walks I often listen to podcasts or make phone calls.”

2020 may have added challenges to the healthcare system but has also highlighted opportunities to grow and learn for patients, providers, and essential workers. “The pandemic has upended health care in so many ways, such as the huge increase in telehealth to reduce in-person contact. In other ways, however, the pandemic has shined a bright light on longstanding problems. For example, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in mortality are not new; Covid-19 has just made these inequities harder to ignore.”  After finishing Dr. Liss’ class, students have a better sense of healthcare delivery, performance, and problems of the US system and how to design communication-led solutions.

If you are interested in learning more about the healthcare system in the US, Dr. Liss recommends “anything by Atul Gawande,” an American surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. Gawande’s articles have appeared in The New Yorker, and he has written multiple books on issues like end-of-life care, using checklists to reduce human error and how medical care is central to well-being versus survival.