Dr. Jeremy Faust is a EM resident of many talents. His accomplishment are wide and varied from his many musical awards, to his work with grammy award winning vocal group Roomful of Teeth, to his column in ACEPnews, to his appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show speaking on the Ebola crisis, to his upcoming SMACC Chicago talk. He’s well known in the FOAM world and, for the last year, has been producing quality FOAM core content with Lauren Westafer on their podcast: FOAMCast. Dr. Jeremy Faust, following his own mantra, broke the mold, submitting his How I Work Smarter column despite not being officially nominated. Bold. Follow the link, yall, to discover Dr. Faust’s keys to success.
- Name: Jeremy Samuel Faust, MD
- Location: The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York NY and Elmhurst Hospital Center, Queens NY
- Current job: Emergency Medicine Resident Physician
- One word that best describes how you work: Opportunistically
- Current mobile device: iPhone 5
- Current computer: MacBook Air 13″
What’s your office workspace setup like?
Mobile. Anywhere, anytime. Like in the hospital, your location should not determine the type or quality of work you are able to do. “Upstairs care, downstairs?” By the same logic, “Optimal workspace, anywhere.”
- Prioritize lightweight computing over almost other computing feature (other than battery life, possibly). “Downgrading” from the MacBook Pro 15″ to the Air 13″ was the best decision I’ve made; with today’s processors, less computing power is fine. I use music and sound editing software on the Air with no problems.
- Prioritize comfort over almost any other organizational trick or tool. Physical discomfort decreases my work endurance, which is a big deal. I require chair with good back support. My Tempur-pedic lumbar support pillow is crucial for working at home. When traveling, bring earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. A long plane ride otherwise rendered useless by a loud person or child is saved simply with a hearty supply of inexpensive earplugs.
- Prioritize cloud computing so that if you can’t bring your laptop, you have access to everything you need. Pay for iCloud space, if needed. Anything that can be done in iCloud or Google Docs should be done there.
What’s your best time-saving tip in the office or home?
Outsource every single thing that you possibly can. Outsource every single thing that you possibly can. Outsource every single thing that you possibly can. This is my mantra in life and this breakthrough is the single thing to which I ascribe almost all of my success.
When I started residency, I did something that perhaps no resident has ever done in the history of modern medicine. I hired a part-time personal assistant. She’s a wonderful woman (not quite old enough to be my mother) who I found on craigslist. I chose her over young techno-savvy starving artists because I knew she wouldn’t drop me if she got a gig or a big break. She charges $125 for six hours of work plus $5 for travel because she works from my home. She comes every 2-3 weeks. If you are not in debt, you can probably afford this (lets say 20 visits per year x $130= $2600 per year). Even if you are in debt, it is likely a drop in the bucket (average post-medical school debt in the U.S. is $170,000; this small increase is well worth it). And, as you will see below, she practically pays for herself. But as importantly, she also frees up well more than six hours of time for me–plus she removes the stress associated with many types of tasks–allowing me to work on my career, my music and personal matters. All of this would not be possible without investing in myself as if I were a business.
Here’s a list of things my part-time assistant Kathy does for me:
- Enters my work calendar into gmail/phone.
- Files papers on my desk.
- Removes me from bulk snail-mail mailing lists (I pile up junk mail and write a big “R” for remove on the address label with a Sharpie pen).
- Oh, and have you ever bought something with a mail-in rebate? Have you ever gotten that rebate? I do. Every single time. She sends these in and chases them down.
- Replaces printer cartridges (orders online ahead of time, saving money).
- Keeps magazine subscriptions up to date.
- Takes care of any repairs needing done (e.g. My Swiss backpack zipper broke. She got it fixed instead of me spending hundreds of dollars on a replacement.) If my nice shoes need re-soling, it occurs (saving me money by not having to buy new shoes as often).
- Makes sure my home has coffee and wine.
- Exchanges my empty carbonated water cartridges (saving money and the environment by stopping me from buying plastic bottles of seltzer).
- Makes sure my apartment has paper towels, toilet paper, contact lens solution, toothpaste, shaving items, office supplies. Buys them all in bulk online when I’m running low (saving money and a trip to the store). She keeps my fridge full of stuff she knows I like (saves money because I don’t order out as much).
- Makes sure at any given time there are envelopes of several sizes and priorities with my return address on them, stamped, and ready to mail if needed.
- Pays bills (eliminating late fees).
- Pays dry cleaner/laundry (which I clearly also outsource).
- Keeps an Excel file of all my receipts (saving me money on business expenses/taxes).
- Ever had to fight an insurance claim? I had Kathy do it for me once. Took her two hours on the phone. Apparently she wanted to pull her hair out. But she won and she saved me $800.
- Frames things I want framed and hangs them.
- Buys wedding, birthday, and holiday gifts, with some guidance. Sends my Mom flowers on Mothers Day (writes the card, signs it from me. Is that evil? Sorry, I just don’t have time to care. I do, however, call my parents often).
- Whenever I get new scrubs, she takes them (along with an old pair) to the tailor and has them altered for my exact size.
- She makes sure a housekeeper cleans my place at least once a month (and schedules it on days when she will also be there, so there’s supervision).
She did not write this article. I did that.
What’s your best time-saving tip regarding email management?
Have fetch activated for only one email account on your phone (the others should be set to check infrequently). Spam, daily stuff, consumer email should be diverted to another account that only fetches occasionally, if ever. When you see the icon that says you have mail on your phone, it should only be important mail.
Make your passwords typable with your left hand only so that you can press enter or click OK with your right hand. This increases speed and accuracy.
What’s your best time-saving tip in the ED?
- Avoid human interruptions at all costs. Interruptions are a disaster for efficiency and are annoying to the point where it can run you down and cause downstream slowing later in the shift. This is why when I admit a patient, I often call the admitting resident/PA immediately. That way, I control the timing. I don’t like being called when I’m intubating.
- Chart as far away from other staff and patients as possible.
- Tell patients how long things are going to take so that they do not ask you. Whatever time you think something will take, double it. Leads to fewer interruptions.
ED charting: Macros or no macros?
Incomplete Macros: Of all the things I’ve written the past 3 years, this is among my favorites.
The idea is that a vast majority of macros I use must require some further typing and fill-in-the-blank answers. This saves time and serves as a forced cognitive barrier. For example, any patient with chest pain must be considered for seven causes of chest pain and my macro lists those out but leaves blank how I addressed each concern. Typing that part in for each patient is an exercise in double checking my work and provides crystal clear documentation. It’s faster than having no macros at all, and only a few seconds slower than complete boilerplate macros which can get you into trouble. It may even save time because it helps you detect mistakes.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about work, life, or being efficient?
- Do not wait your turn.
- Don’t do the task you want to do: do the next indicated task first.
- Collaborate with efficient people (I am lucky to be podcasting with Lauren Westafer; rare combo of brilliance and efficiency).
Who would you love for us to track down to answer these same questions?
- David Newman
- Jeff Kline
- Ashley Shreves