Jillian Tullis, PhD

Jillian Tullis
Phone: (619) 260-6897
Fax: (619) 260-4205
Office: Camino Hall 126E

Associate Professor, Communication Studies

  • PhD, University of South Florida

Jillian A. Tullis, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies. Her teaching and research interests focus on health communication, specifically communication about dying and death in healthcare settings. She returned to her home state, joining the faculty at the University of San Diego in 2015, after serving on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for 6 years.

Professional Experience

Dr. Tullis recently completed her tenure as chair of the Ethnography Division of the National Communication Association, and continues to serve on the editorial boards of the Journal of Loss & Trauma and Qualitative Research in Medicine & Healthcare, and is editor of the Critical Interventions forum of Departures in Critical Qualitative Research. 


  • Dr. Tullis is looking forward to developing an undergraduate Medical Humanities course during the 2019-2020, with the support of a Faculty Innovation in Teaching Grant, and continuing her research about a dying well and a good death.
  • She was also recently awarded the Just Read! Faculty Integration Award from the USD Center for Educational Excellence for her use of the book $2 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America in her Health Communication course.

Scholarly Work

Tullis’ research uses qualitative research to study a variety of end of life issues in healthcare settings, including hospice team communication with patients and their families about spirituality, dying, death, quality of life, and a “good death.” She recently published a co-authored essay in the Journal of Medicine and the Person about the meaning of wanting “everything done” at the end of life. Her work on an American Cancer Society grant funded project focusing on terminally ill head and neck cancer patients’ perceptions of communication with their surgeons was published in Health Communication. She also has publications in Qualitative Research in Medicine & Healthcare, Qualitative Inquiry, Journal of Health CommunicationHandbook of Autoethnography, Behavioral Sciences, Communication Teacher, and Departures in Critical Qualitative Research. In 2010, Tullis spoke at the Middle East Cancer Consortium about spirituality and cancer care at their annual workshop in Istanbul, Turkey. And in 2018, she spoke about patient and doctor communication about dying and decision-making at Death Salon in Boston. 

Areas of Interest

She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Health Communication; End of Life Communication; Spirituality, Communication, and Health; Film and Health; Interpersonal Communication; and Communication Theory. Through interviewing, participant-observation, and self-reflection students interrogate personal, social, and political discourse about health. Her classes include hands-on-experience based learning that allow students to investigate how we talk about contemporary health issues, including food and nutrition, the illness experience, and communication in health care organizations.