Rx for Reality: Clinicians Confront Medical Gaslighting

— Three healthcare professionals describe when they were gaslit by their peers


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Amy Ho: Hey everyone and welcome back to Anamnesis by MedPage.

I'm Amy Ho -- ER doctor and your humble podcast host.

Now for those of you new to the program, welcome. And for those of you joining us again -- thanks for coming back!

By way of introduction, here at Anamnesis -- this is a medical podcast, but its one that isn't about the pure medicine. Because sometimes medicine -- the practice of medicine -- is actually kind of simple. There's drugs, there's labs, there's imaging, there's research studies, trials, evidence-based medicine. Even if the actual content isn't perfectly simple, there is a paradigm for the practice of medicine that is actually, in many ways, quite black and white.

But what gets us going at Anamnesis isn't that black and white discussion of medicine, but the parts of medicine that are gray. It's what makes medicine an art, a practice, an experience.

In every episode here at Anamnesis, we have three stories from three healthcare professionals surrounding one of these themes that are gray in medicine. And while we focus on the voices of healthcare professionals, we cross over frequently to patient voices.

For this episode, we're actually covering both the voices of patient and healthcare worker -- and what happens when one voice crosses into the other role -- because the theme of this episode is "Rx for Reality: Healthcare Professionals Confront Medical Gaslighting."

What we aim to show here is gaslighting is real. Even when you know better as a licensed, credentialed healthcare professional, you can still be gaslit, especially when you're the patient. And that's the power of gaslighting. Because gaslighting is making someone seem or feel unstable, irrational, not credible. It makes them question themselves and their experience utilizing an imbalance of power.

Medicine is, unfortunately, full of that imbalance of power. There's a knowledge imbalance, there is a power imbalance, there's a physical imbalance -- one is in a gown, the other is not -- there's a time imbalance where patients live with their conditions and healthcare workers a lot of times have to squeeze in the whole discussion of that condition into say 10 or 15 minutes.

That imbalance, all of those imbalances, are so powerful as to even overcome a healthcare professional's knowledge and trust in their own experience and cause them to question themselves. Just with that, imagine if it's that bad for people who are in the healthcare system, what could it be like for our patients.

So we hope to bring a little empathy, a little thought, a little compassion to this topic today on Anamnesis "Rx for Reality: Healthcare Professionals Confront Medical Gaslighting."

And we start with our first of three clinicians: neurologist Dr. Ilene Ruhoy, of Mount Sinai South Nassau in New York, with her story.

Chapter 1: When a Neurologist Asks for an MRI, You Order an MRI (3:58) -- Following a slew of normal exams, this neurologist finally found answers. Story by Ilene S. Ruhoy, MD, PhD.

Chapter 2: Putting Together the Puzzle Pieces of Self-Compassion (15:08) -- After years of glossing past symptoms, this doctor had to stop gaslighting herself to be diagnosed. Story by Kara Wada, MD.

Chapter 3: Unmasking a Nurse's Journey Through Long COVID Gaslighting (28:17) -- Repeated dismissal from doctors led a nurse to find her own answers. Story by Jess Warner, RN.

Episode produced by Gillian Booth

Hosted by

Sound engineering by Greg Laub

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    Gillian Booth is a Social Media Manager for app. She is based in Philadelphia. Interested in collaborating with @MedPageToday on social media? Email: