Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency physician, visiting professor of health policy and management at George Washington University, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She writes a weekly newsletter for The Washington Post called “Check Up with Dr. Wen” in addition to contributing as a columnist. Dr. Wen is also a CNN medical analyst and author of the critically-acclaimed book on patient advocacy, When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests (St. Martin’s Press, 2013) and a forthcoming memoir, Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health (Metropolitan Books, July 2021).
Previously, she served as Baltimore’s Health Commissioner, where she led the nation’s oldest continuously operating health department in the U.S. to fight the opioid epidemic, treat violence and racism as public health issues, and improve maternal and child health.
Dr. Wen obtained her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine and studied health policy at the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She completed her residency training at Brigham & Women’s Hospital & Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School.
A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Wen has received recognition as one of Governing‘s Public Officials of the Year, Modern Healthcare‘s Top 50 Physician-Executives, World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders, and TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
Dr. Wen lives with her husband and their toddler and baby in Baltimore.Download Bio
HARDCOVER and PAPERBACK
LIFELINESA Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health
From medical expert Leana Wen, MD., Lifelines is an insider's account of public health and its crucial role—from opioid addiction to global pandemic—and an inspiring story of her journey from struggling immigrant to being one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People.
When Doctors Don't Listen
How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests
St. Martins Press
In this examination of the doctor-patient relationship, Drs. Wen and Kosowsky argue that diagnosis, once the cornerstone of medicine, is fast becoming a lost art, with grave consequences. Using real-life stories of cookbook-diagnoses-gone-bad, the doctors illustrate how active patient participation can prevent these mistakes. Wen and Kosowsky offer tangible follow-up questions patients can easily incorporate into every doctor's visit to avoid counterproductive and even potentially harmful tests.
Racial Disparities in Health Dr. Wen is a leading national expert on health disparities. During the COVID-19 crisis, she was asked to testify twice to the U.S. House of Representatives on the unequal impact of the pandemic on communities of color. While she served as Baltimore’s health commissioner, she reconfigured the agency to specifically focus on health equity and was among the first leaders to declare racism as a public health crisis. She can speak from the lens of current events on how COVID-19 has unmasked existing disparities and specifically focus on innovative solutions that reduce disparities and improve health in the short-term, as well as long-term efforts to address structural inequities.
Women in leadership Women, and women leaders, face distinctive challenges in the workplace. Trained in trauma/ER medicine and having been one of many “firsts” as a woman of color, Dr. Wen speaks from first-hand experience and from her professional research about the challenges and opportunities for women in leadership. These include advice for women about the “double bind” and “glass cliff,” such as owning one’s authentic identity and negotiating societal expectations. Dr. Wen also gives talks in crisis leadership, innovative leadership, and overcoming adversity. These include lessons from innovative leadership locally and nationally, drawing upon her background convening unlikely stakeholders around shared goals; leading collective impact, public-private collaborations in public health; and getting to points of agreement in turbulent political environments.
Wellness and work-life balance Dr. Wen has given dozens of talks to corporate audiences about employee wellness. One type of presentation is for employees on mental health and well-being, reducing stress and simple things to improve health every day. She also includes patient advocacy tips including advice for those caring for children and older parents. Another type of presentation is for managers and HR directors. Dr. Wen has studied and implemented citywide wellness initiatives and corporate wellness strategies; she discusses best practices that improve employee well-being and productivity. She can also approach the topic from her work on the opioid epidemic and mental health crises—the “diseases of despair”—and speak in particular about what everyone can do to build resilience and incorporate mental and physical wellness routines into their work and home lives. Finally, she references both her own experiences negotiating dual roles as mother/executive and her research on women, parents, and caregivers in the workplace to speak about work-life balance in a changing environment.
Read Dr. Wen’s op-ed on the coronavirus budget.
Dr. Wen lays out how schools should reopen in this op-ed.
Check out Rolling Stone’s Q&A with Dr. Leana Wen on COVID-19.
Dr. Wen speaks with fellow panelists on the current state of the epidemic.
Watch Dr. Wen on CNBC speaking on the current epidemic and prevention.
Dr. Wen discusses the US and Trump administration response to prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak.
Read Dr. Wen’s op-ed on government needing people’s trust in an outbreak.
Dr. Wen speaks on the need to protect doctors during an epidemic.
Washington Post features Dr. Wen’s op-ed on what Trump should have said about the current epidemic.
Dr. Wen gives advice on preparing for an epidemic outbreak.
Watch Dr. Wen’s recent appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”
Dr. Wen named as one of the TIME‘s “100 Most Influential People of 2019.”
Listen to Dr. Wen’s guest appearance on VOX‘s “The Ezra Klein Show.”
Check out the recent New York Times interview with Dr. Wen.
Read Dr. Wen’s op-ed in The Washington Post on health disparities for people of color.
Dr. Wen’s important and timely take on the maternal mortality crisis on SELF Magazine.
Watch Dr. Wen’s speech at Bloomberg American Health Summit, 2018.
TIME covers Dr. Wen’s call for a more nuanced conversation on abortion.
Wall Street Journal interviewed Dr. Wen on the community and healthcare.
Dr. Wen on WBAL regarding drug overdoses in Baltimore.
Check out Dr. Wen’s talk at the Mayo Clinic Transform 2018 Summit.
Dr. Wen on PBS speaking on the topical issue of healthcare in our politics.
Washington University School of Medicine invited Dr. Wen to give a commencement speech.
Check out Dr. Wen’s interview on “The View.”
“CBS This Morning”hosted Dr. Wen to speak on the roles of Planned Parenthood and politics, Dr. Wen discusses the Baltimore Health Department‘s prestigious awards, sugary drinks for kids, and the opioid epidemic.
Watch Dr. Wen’s commencement speech at Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Washington Post held a panel on breaking patterns of addiction with Dr. Wen as a speaker.
Listen to Dr. Leana Wen on the Delta Variant.
"A provocative exploration of public health from an immigrant physician and expert’s point of view [and] a moving account of an impressively fruitful life.”
- Kirkus Review
"A stirring call for greater investment in public health programs to combat racism, poverty, gun violence, and other social ills . . . Readers will be inspired by Wen’s belief in the power of public health to make America better.”
- Publishers Weekly
“Beyond her personal history, Wen explains how crucial public health is, from combatting opioid addiction to infant mortality to COVID-19.”
Praise for When Doctors Don't Listen “The book's insights and cautionary tales should appeal to medical and lay readers alike: they combine into a superb analysis of how doctors listen and think, and offer detailed suggestions for how they could do both better.”
—The New York Times
“Leana Wen and Joshua Kosowsky, emergency physicians at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard University, urge patients to assert their voice. They warn that ‘a health care crisis is not the time to keep your mouth shut,' but rather a critical time to speak up and be your own advocate.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Doctors Wen and Kosowsky (Pocket Emergency Medicine, co-editor) nudge the medical "consumer empowerment movement" forward with this provocative dialogic guide to help patients get the right diagnosis and treatment while avoiding the pitfalls of formulaic "cookbook" medicine. It all starts with an open conversation, the pair assert--much like the banter between car owner and mechanic on NPR's popular Car Talk program--and ends with an active M.D.-patient partnership. "You are the key to your own health, and you have to help your doctor help you," the duo insist. Recounted are hair-raising stories of patients who bore the brunt of doctors leaping to "worst-case reasoning" instead of listening to what their patients were telling them, like Jerry the car mechanic with a pulled muscle who was treated for a heart attack. The team warns consumers that the transformation from passive recipient of medical care to active partner won't be easy, but provide plenty of how-tos in their "8 Pillars" toward building a patient-doctor partnership. Theirs is an urgent call to action for patients, and a stark heads-up for doctors and the troubled healthcare industry they serve.”
“This is a well-written book on an innovative approach to healthcare reform: it challenges patients to take charge of their health and every medical encounter with their doctor. An important topic and an important book--I encourage my patients to read it.”
—Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“I have always said that a hospital can kill you as sure as cure you. You must be your own best advocate. Follow the advice of Drs. Wen and Kosowsky…and transform from being a patient to an advocate for your own health.”
—Fran Drescher, actor, producer, activist, and author of Cancer Schmancer
“It's critical for patients to advocate for their own health. This book teaches you how…Read it; it will change radically how you approach your doctors.”
—Melissa Etheridge, Grammy Award-winning musician and host of The Melissa Etheridge Radio Show
“This clearly-written, brilliantly and creatively thought-out book, filled with fascinating and horrifying examples of how doctors are now trained to not listen to their patients in order to ‘rule out' diseases, focuses on ‘ruling in' diagnoses that not only are accurate, but that will save billions of dollars per year in lawsuit-driven tests. A brave, terrific, essential work.”
—Samuel Shem, M.D., Ph.D., author of The House of God and The Spirit of the Place
“Leana Wen and Josh Kosowsky have written an authoritative guide to answer a seemingly simple question: How should you talk to your doctor? Through fascinating examples taken from their own clinical experiences, they show how doctors' training fails to teach real listening skills. But Drs. Wen and Kosowsky don't stop there: They also offer up constructive and practical advice that just might save your life.”
—Darshak Sanghavi, MD, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, health care columnist for Slate, contributing editor at Parents Magazine, and author of A Map of the Child: A Pediatrician's Tour of the Body