Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Dr. Elizabeth Comen on the Myths that Have Influenced Malpractice in Women’s Healthcare

Air Dates: June 17-23, 2024

For thousands of years, a mix of truth, lies, and down-right myths have shaped medicine’s understanding of the female body. While the modern era has seen progress, Dr. Elizabeth Comen tells us those narratives about women and their bodies continue to shape the care provided women today.  

Comen is a Medical Oncologist specializing in breast cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a professor at New York University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in the History of Science from Harvard College and her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital and her fellowship in oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  Comen’s research has been published in several prestigious scientific journals. She is a tireless advocate for women’s healthcare and has mentored many students throughout their academic and medical careers, helping them to empower their patients with the tools they need to survive and thrive. Her book, “All In Her Head: The Truth and Lies Early Medicine Taught Us About Women’s Bodies and Why It Matters Today,” dives into the inherent gender divide between males and females in the healthcare system.  

On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Dr. Comen discusses the historical and present-day mistreatment of women in the healthcare system. Her new book, “All In Her Head,” grapples with these issues and directly confronts the shame women seeking healthcare are subject to. She explains, “so much of what we have been taught about our bodies is to behave or that they’re dirty or not worthy of the same types of pleasure or have simply just been misunderstood, whether it’s diagnoses that were still struggling to tackle and understand better for women. At every level of their bodies and their soul, I think many women have inherited stories about shame.” 

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and Mondays at 2:30 a.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a project of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.