- Name: Howard Liu, M.D.
- Director, Faculty Development Programs at UNMC
- Medical Director, Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN)
- Psychiatry Clerkship Director
- Joined UNMC: 2009
- Hometown: West Des Moines
What are the greatest rewards of teaching?
I love two elements of teaching; mentorship and creativity. I have benefited tremendously from visionary faculty who inspired me to stretch a little further and go outside my comfort zone. As a faculty member, it is a privilege to engage in a real dialogue with students about their lives, their struggles and their future dreams. It is so rewarding to hear from graduates who have grown up to become stars in their own right. Regarding the teaching process, I was a former history major in college and I find that teaching is my creative outlet.
Describe a moment in your career when you realized you had picked the right occupation.
In my senior year of college my grandfather passed away after living in our home for 18 years. I was asked to give the eulogy, and I told a story about when my grandpa taught me to ride a bike, and how he eventually let go to see if I could move forward on my own. My older cousin became tearful during the eulogy, and later told me that he had experienced the same memory with my grandfather. It was then that I realized the power of stories to connect us and inspire us to have deeper discussions beyond everyday life.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a teacher?
I have a tendency to knock holes in silos and build bridges between professions. My biggest challenges occur when barriers prevent interprofessional collaboration and I feel trapped by traditions which are sometimes counterproductive.
How do you know when you've been successful as a teacher?
I know I've been successful when I meet my former students and see that they've done amazing things with their careers. I know I've been successful during a teaching event when I see earnest dialogue percolating throughout the room and attendees don't want to leave when the session is over. And I know I've been successful when my students or colleagues and I can laugh, forget about our roles and just connect on a human level.