ABOUT ME


Who am I? 

My name is Stephanie Ellen Waggel.  I am a fun-loving doctor who is passionate about improving medical care for all. I have been to over 35 countries and worked in healthcare in countries such as Japan, Australia, The United Kingdom, and Cuba. I have taken the best parts of each back home to the US with me. I also  worked with the Coast Guard for four years alongside flight surgeons. I developed a tool used by pilots around the world to assess for eye  damage. I have worked with astronauts and even met Neil Armstrong! You may read my publications here

But Why?

You’re probably asking, what's the story here? Why is this fun-loving happy doctor so focused on anti-suicide campaigns and discrimination prevention? Why is she blogging about getting fired? Unfortunately, due to legal reasons, I can’t say too much or leak the really juicy bits. But don’t worry, once this lawsuit is over I will make everything that I legally can available to the public. Some of the things that happened are so unbelievable, you have to see it with your own eyes.
  
 Story in Short

I was a happy resident in a psychiatry residency program until I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The harassment I received from others in my program because of this diagnosis, to me, was worse than the diagnosis itself. My superiors would not let me attend follow up treatment and would punish me if I did. I asked for help and reported this to my chiefs, then higher ups in the program, then outside organizations, then deans, then ombudspersons, and finally the university president.  My bosses, a group of psychiatrists, intimidated me into believing that what was happening was my fault. I went to a psychologist of my own who showed me that this mistreatment was only a way for them protect themselves and maintain control over me. I did not know it at the time but I was, by definition, being tortured. I eventually filed a claim with the EEOC against my employer. A vote to fire me was made right after that. I’m now an unemployed physician fighting to change this culture so that this doesn’t continue to happen. I have had countless people contact me who are going through similar experiences. The retaliation keeps them from coming forward.  I have been told that by sharing my blog posts, I am giving hope to those who are silenced. This is a terrible thing to go through alone. I am working so that one day no one has to go through it at all. We need good doctors in America but by the time they get through residency many have become hardened or may never make it at all. The chance of suicide is higher for doctors than it is any other profession. It doesn’t need to be this way.

Why are many of your posts focusing on the negative?

I am not a negative person. I talk about the negative because I am one of the few who can. I am not complaining. I have already gone through the toughest parts of medical training. I speak out for the next generation, so that things will be better for them.  Before social media, only the rich and powerful could send out messages to the masses. Now, the public chooses what goes "viral." The more people see a problem, the more likely it is to be fixed.  When it comes to the harassment that occurs in medicine, people typically fall into three categories: 1. Those who are unaware of the abuses that occur in medical training. Although studies have shown 80 to 100% of medical students have been abused ( usually in their 3rd year), and Wikipedia has a whole  page about it, the general public glances over this. I think it is because the public does not realize the severity of this abuse. Please realize that hundreds of medical students DIE from this every year, and not all occur by suicide. I almost died because I was threatened and intimidated out of going to my own appointments for cancer. Repeat after me: medical training harassment is life-threatening. 2. Those who accept these abuses because they know that this is how it has been for generations. Some have the " if I went through it, you should too" mentality and some have the "Everyone has gone through this, I have to put up with it or they will think I am weak" mentality. 3. Those who want to speak out on the human rights violations that occur but realize the high likelihood that their career, all they have ever worked for, will be destroyed. Sadly, many medical students and residents have to join this movement in secret.   Whistleblowers try to remain anonymous but always worry they will be discovered. It is easier to just keep quiet. The abuse that occurs is medicine's dirty secret. But, why didn't I keep quiet? I spoke out because I was fighting for my life. If I didn't have a life-threatening illness, I would have probably never reported these abuses. Then again, if I did not have an illness I probably would not have been abused as much. This culture preys on what they think is weak. I may have had cancer, but I am most certainly not weak. And now there is nothing holding me back from speaking the truth. I am posting the negative stories for those who remain trapped in this culture. I am posting them so that something can finally be done to stop this cycle of abuse.