As the year is coming to an end, a great place to look for inspiration for 2015 is Academic Life in Emergency Medicine’s series “How I work Smarter“. I’ve been reading these and wanted to share some highlights.

The first thing that really jumps out is, in order to excel in the world of FOAM/Academic EM, you have to have two things: An iphone and a macbook.

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As you can see, almost all these great clinicians have an iphone + macboook, with the exception of the a few straggling HTC and Asus devices. Dr. Mattu does not disclose his telephone of choice, but I have a confidential source who confirmed he actually uses an EKG machine, which he carries around at all times.

Now, if you really want to make it big, like Dr. Weingart (who has the most downloaded medical podcast), all you have to do is double down. Dr. Weingart actually uses 2 iphones, a souped up PC, 2 PC laptops and a Macbook. No doubt the iphone x2 + macbook ( + medical school + residency @SinaiEM) is the secret sauce to his success.

But all joking aside, there are some great pearls to take away from the series thus far:

Office Life:

  • Common Themes:
    • Several computers, several screens
    • Detailed calendars and reminders sent via email/text or to-do list
    • Inboxes sorted by actions (reply today, expecting reply, etc.)
    • Zero inbox approach is very popular (aka deal with email and move on)
    • Work on the go with laptops and dropbox/icloud/gdrive
    • Either work or get ideas during exercise  
    • Make academic projects count more than once
  • Individual Tidbits:  
    • Damian Roland – “Turning off e-mail when trying to complete a task.”
    • Lainie Yarris – “And take advantage of your “best” time for your most important tasks”
    • Ken Milne – “Only have one system to use in all locations.”
    • Rob Sweeney – “Work expands to fill the available time, so condense that time, work hard during that time, and have something non-work related planned to do afterwards.” – 
    • Matt Dawson – “I always answer at least 1 email while going to the bathroom, and 2-3 if doing number two…” – 
    • Mike Mallin  – “Set goals for the each day and each week.” 
    • Simon Carley – “Define your task, predict what you need, build the environment, get the tools, predict the time required, then do it – 
    • Simon Carley – “If you can speak to someone instead of sending an email. Speak to them. Long email trails are a waste of time.” – 

ED Life:

  • Common Themes:
    • Use macros but cautiously
    • Document as you go (not at the end of shift)
    • Build good relations with nurses, techs, admins, cleaning staff, etc.
    • Cognitive Unloading
  • Individual Tidbits: 
    • Anand Swaminathan – “Take all the necessary tools you’ll need when examining a patient into the room with you.”
    • Scott Weingart – “Work towards reducing flow-destroying interactions…flow-destroying situations include task interruptions, unnecessary alarms, fights with other services, and poor physical plant/work set-ups.”
    • Mike Stone – “For patients you anticipate discharging but are awaiting a test (i.e. wrist pain after a mechanical fall but needs an x-ray), tell them that you’ll come back to talk to them if there’s an abnormal result but that they won’t see you again if the test is normal.” 


Best Advice You’ve Ever Received:

  • Common Themes:
    • Be very very selective about taking on new projects. Makes sure they’re aligned with your long-term goals 
    • Do your best to have a long-term vision of your career / goals
    • Spend time on things you like
    • Do not neglect your family/hobbies/outside interests
    • It is our duty to know the evidence and order diagnostic studies judiciously
  •  Individual Tidbits: 
    • Esther Choo – “If you have a hard time saying no, say “I’ll think about it.””
    • Salim Rezaie – “Have big dreams: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo””
    • Anand Swaminathan – “On time means being ten minutes early.”
    • Ken Milne – “Exercise every day.”
    • Matt Dawson – “Delegate!”
    • Mike Mallin – “Don’t be afraid to fail.”
    • Scott Weingart – “You can blaze your own trail and still succeed in academic medicine, but you’ll have to work much, much harder to get to the same place.”
    • Michael Bond – “Just do it…Just sit down, get started, and it will be done before you know it.”


May 2024