Health care leadership instructor recommends planning in the face of adversity

An instructor at UC San Diego Extension for the past two years, Dan Wallis prefers to be known as a facilitator.

INSTRUCTOR PROFILE: Dan Wallis, Leadership of Healthcare Organizations (Master’s program)

“I prefer the more practical approach,” he said. “I try to include as many real-world examples as possible, and make sure classwork is directly applicable to current work opportunities. Plus, I try to make it as fun and enjoyable as possible.”

He describes his students as “incredibly bright, engaged and focused,” bringing highly diverse geographic and ethnic backgrounds.

“Believe me, they keep me sharp,” he said. “I learn so much from my students, probably as much as they learn from me. I help facilitate the process, so we can teach each other.”

As part of Extension’s master’s-level degree program of Leadership of Healthcare Organizations, Wallis’s courses are: Project Management for Healthcare Professionals (Winter 2014), and Strategic Management and Organizational Change (Fall 2014).

He brings a real-world application to his courses. As managing director of KP OnCall, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kaiser Permanente, Wallis is responsible for the health provider’s 24/7 nurse triage call center, a sizable commitment of time and energy.

His Extension courses also keep him busy, but he’s always been “a borderline workaholic.” With each quarter, Wallis finds teaching to be even more fulfilling.

“I’m a sucker for compliments, just like the next guy,” he said. “So I really enjoy getting a note from a student who was able to immediately apply what he or she learned from class and advanced their career.”

As for the practical value of advanced planning, he turns to the street wisdom of former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.”

That’s where what he teaches comes into play.

“You can come up with a very elegant plan,” he added, “but when something in your plan changes, what do you do then?”

Wallis teaches that with proper planning, adversity is more easily addressed and conquered.

For more information about the master’s program in The Leadership of Healthcare Organizations, visit

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