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Thomas D'Aunno, PhD


Professor of Public Health, College of Global Public Health; Professor of Management, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; Editor-in-Chief, Medical Care Research and Review  

Dr. Tom D'Aunno understands well the sentiment expressed in the 1970 Joe South hit, "Walk a Mile in My Shoes."   

Dr. D'Aunno teaches his students how the critical life skills of seeing the world from someone else's perspective, paired with good listening and facilitation skills, are essential for healthcare managers.  One main take-away from his courses emphasize that healthcare management takes strategic thinking and an active imagination.  

"Imagine where you want to be in five years and then think about the steps to get there. What obstacles do you think you'll encounter? How will you overcome them? You have to think where you want to be, how you think that you can get there, and whether there are alternative pathways." He uses this approach to help students consider how to chart a successful course for organizational change.  

Tom is a Professor of Public Health at NYU's College of Global Public Health, Professor of Management, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Editor-in-Chief of Medical Care Research and Review. As an expert in healthcare management, Dr. D'Aunno has conducted several studies sponsored by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Agency for Health Care Quality and Research, and the Pew Memorial Trust aimed at improving the organization and management of healthcare providers. His research has included national studies of hospitals and of the organization and quality of care in the nation's substance abuse treatment system.  

Dr. D'Aunno is a past Chair of the Academy of Management Division of Health Care Management and a recipient of the division's award for Career Distinguished Service. He lived and worked in Europe, and draws on this experience in teaching about cross-cultural dimensions of working relationships.  Despite his long list of accolades, Dr. D'Aunno is renowned for his self-deprecating wit and an approachable nature so vital to building better working relationships among people. "All my advice is good advice but it goes against human nature," he said, laughing. Referring to subconscious gender and racial biases that occur within nanoseconds of meeting someone, he said, "In my courses, I take (students) on a tour of the dark side so that they're inoculated against first impressions and how to fight against them." He sees himself as a facilitator of important discussions, guiding students into a better understanding of how important effective communication is to developing productive relationships that influence all aspects of healthcare -- from health care system design and organizational change to healthcare policy. He employs case-study methods, induction-learning by example and role-playing scenarios to teach students how to analyze and improve healthcare operations.  

"My philosophy of learning is that it comes from the student; it doesn't come from me. My job is to be a good facilitator in the classroom and bring out their experiences and insights and this will make or break the class." He instructs students to consider how those they are serving or working with might view things, and based on those considerations, he challenges them to see how they might change their behavior to make their interaction be more efficient and productive. 

Or as the song goes:  

"Walk a mile in my shoes. Just walk a mile in my shoes.
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse, then walk a mile in my shoes."


Thomas D'Aunno

Professor of Public Health, College of Global Public Health; Professor of Management, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; Editor-in-Chief, Medical Care Research and Review

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