Dr. Leana Wen

emergency physician, public health leader, patient advocate

My Total Transparency Manifesto

Here is my
Total Transparency Manifesto. In the spirit of radical, no-holds barred disclosure (see why here), here is all of my personal and professional information:

I’m Your Doctor: Total Transparency Manifesto for Leana Wen, M.D.

Professional information:
Specialty: Emergency Medicine
Board eligible/board certified: yes
Current clinical position: Attending emergency physician, George Washington University
Other professional positions: Director, Patient-Centered Care Research, George Washington University
Organizational memberships: American Academy of Emergency Medicine; National Physicians Alliance; Society for Participatory Medicine; Right Care Alliance

Undergraduate: California University, Los Angeles
Medical School: Washington University School of Medicine
Graduate School: University of Oxford
Residency: Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital

Disclosures for 2013:
Payment/gifts from pharmaceutical companies: $0
Payment/gifts from medical device companies: $0
Payments/gifts from any other healthcare companies: $0
Investments/stocks in any healthcare companies: $0
Paid board membership: none
Unpaid board membership: board member of American Academy of Emergency Medicine; advisory panel on Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute; advisory board on Lown Institute’s Right Care Alliance

Revenue streams for 2013:
Clinical: 55%
How is clinical revenue determined: hourly salary, with bonus determined by academic contribution. There is no additional pay for more tests or fewer tests ordered, no additional pay for more procedures or fewer procedures done.
Research: 40%
Sources of research funding: 20% George Washington University Emergency Department grant to support patient-centered care research; 10% U.S. Government grant to work on Medical Education Partners Initiative between U.S. and African medical schools; 10% Kaiser Permanente Community Health Partnership to develop new fellowship for physicians in social responsibility
Other funding: 4% speaking honoraria for grand rounds and keynote speeches for hospitals and patient advocacy groups including Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Carondelet Health Systems, and Best Doctors; 1% proceeds of my book,
When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests, and freelance writing projects

Personal information:
Place of birth: Shanghai, China
Place of residence: Washington, D.C.
Family: married, no kids yet but would love them
Social habits: I don’t smoke. I drink the occasional glass of wine. No drugs. I exercise at least five times a week.
Volunteer activities: advising young people who stutter, mentoring future health professional students, speaking to student groups about importance of service
Hobbies: ballroom dancing, reading, writing, traveling
Twitter: @DrLeanaWen
Facebook: DrLeanaWen

Philosophy of practice:
I am a physician and patient advocate. I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. Growing up as child with severe asthma, I worshipped the white-coated figures and held the mystique of the hospital with great awe.

Everything changed in 2003, when mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I was a second year medical student, and for eight years, I helped her navigate the healthcare system as her caregiver. In the process, I saw firsthand how disconnected doctors and patients have become. I experienced how out of control patients and their families can feel, and how disempowering our healthcare system is. Doctors, nurses, and administrators—everyone is well-meaning, but the current system is not designed for patients.

In fact, much in our healthcare system is backwards. We practice sick care, not health care. We design fancy marble staircases in our hospitals, but don’t train our staff members to respect basic human dignity. We make our patients undress in a time that is scary and vulnerable, but don’t ask our doctors to share even the most basic information about themselves. Our doctors make life-changing decisions with us—we should know what could be influencing their recommendations.

My mother’s illness coincided entirely with my medical training, and her experiences—including multiple misdiagnoses and medical mistakes—shaped my life mission: to be the best doctor possible for my patients and to redesign our healthcare system to provide safe, effective, and humane care.

I strive to practice this “right care” in every encounter with every patient I treat in the E.R. I say to my patients, “I’m Leana Wen, I’m your doctor. I belong to an initiative called ‘
Who’s My Doctor, that aims for transparency in medicine. I accept no money from drug companies or device companies. I do not make any more from ordering more tests or procedures on you, and I also don’t make more for ordering less. I’m telling you this so that you can be sure that everything I do for you is in your best interest.” In other words, this is me. Now tell me about you. This is the beginning of our partnership. We’re in this together. I’ll be vulnerable with you.

I started “
Who’s My Doctor” because I know that I’m not alone. I’ve had the great privilege of working with and learning from so many wonderful health professionals over the years. There are so many people who went into medicine for the right reasons who are struggling against a broken healthcare system. The Total Transparency Manifesto is our effort to join together and call for a new professionalism, to counter fear and rebuild trust. It is our hope that our patients will join us in building a better healthcare system, one that prioritizes patient values and respects human dignity.

Another part of my professional role is to teach medical students and resident doctors. I also conduct research in patient-centered care and look into ways to reduce fear and improve the human connection. I write about these topics to both medical and nonmedical audiences. My book is
When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests (Jan 2013; St. Martin’s Press), and I write on healthcare reform as a contributor to The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN.com, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, and Women’s Health Magazine.

Ultimately, this is my philosophy of practice: I believe in practicing what we preach, in the art as well as the science of medicine, and in public accountability for matters as important as our health. I believe in the basic goodness of people, and that all of us have the ability to make a difference. I believe that medicine has maintained its mystique for far too long, and it’s time to open the veil of secrecy and have patients and providers alike participate as equal partners. I believe that patients have to be part of every discussion that takes place in healthcare, from research to system design to medical care. I believe that everything I do is in my mother’s memory, and that it is my professional goal and personal mission to practice patient-centered care that is 0% fear and 100% trust, and that is at all times accountable and socially responsible to those we serve.