I am Liz Crowe, Advanced Clinical Social Worker: How I Stay Healthy in EM

2017-09-15T11:50:04+00:00

Our work isn’t easy, but it would be impossible without the help of our colleagues. It’s time for our second post on How Our ED Colleagues Stay Healthy in EM!

Liz Crowe is an Advanced Clinical Social Worker from Brisbane, Australia. She is no stranger to the FOAMed world, and her electric personality is infectious. Always laughing, always trying to make others smile, that’s just how she rolls. Here’s how she stays healthy in EM!


  • Name: Liz Croweliz crowe
  • Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Current job(s): Advanced Clinician Social Worker in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. PICU Staff Wellbeing Specialist – just completed an 8 month pilot project! Providing individual counselling, debriefing, clinical supervision to the medical staff, wellbeing activities at lunch time, before work and on weekends (including a drumming circle, dancing, walking groups, netball), and 230 staff went through an 8 hour ‘Building Wellbeing and Capacity’ workshop designed especially for PICU Staff.
  • One word that describes how you stay healthy: Routine
  • Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Dancing (badly) and boxing/gym, lots of walking the dog while listening to music, family and friends, Black humour

 

What are the top 3 ways you keep healthy?

  1. I rarely drink anything but water, despite the rumours.
  2. I never walk less than 10 kms a day.
  3. I laugh all the time.

What’s your ideal workout?

Dancing to Daggy music while singing loudly!! Though I have recently commenced Reforma Pilates and am quite addicted!

Do you track your fitness? How?

Yes. I am a bit obsessive, so I weigh myself every morning. I wear a Garmin, to keep track of my steps, heart rate, and activity throughout the day. I also continually challenge myself to improve at the gym. I think we should all focus on moving more rather than fitness or exercise, as that can be an overwhelming place to start. (Seriously very few people look good in lycra).

How do you prepare for a night shift? How do you recover from one?

I don’t do shift work currently, however I work full time, am a mother, and am doing a PhD, so sleep is a challenge! ‘Energy creates energy’ is a common mantra! I read last year in Harvard Business Review about how we need to learn how to manage our energy rather than our time. This has changed my life.

How do you avoid getting “hangry” (angry due to hunger) on shift?

I eat all the time. Nuts, apples, peanut butter, and sandwiches. I invented the sandwich diet two years ago. It hasn’t taken off the way I’d hoped; however, it works for me. A sandwich doesn’t have to be heated up and I can get in a mouthful or two in-between very busy clinical times.

How do you ensure you are mentally in check?

I have a lot of lovers. A lover for every occasion….

Seriously, I have learned over time not to be afraid of emotions, mine, or others. I don’t attach a huge narrative to my emotions especially when I am exhausted from work and life. Sometimes I just need to be sad, particularly when we are having a number of pediatric deaths and traumas.

I work with a fantastic team in the PICU. If I am distressed or find others are, I encourage them to feel it, acknowledge it, even be curious about it. Humans are more resilient than we give ourselves credit. Our patients and families demonstrate that to us every day. I try to make sure that we always have room to laugh, talk, and share.

I eat well and exercise every day. Laugh a lot, attempt to make others laugh, and stay connected. My children also have a great talent for dragging me back into life after a challenging day at work. I am attuned to my own needs most the time (I think?).

What are the biggest challenges you face in maintaining a longstanding career in EM?

For me the biggest challenge is never the clinical work. Even on the saddest and most confronting days, I remain very clear why I chose this career and critical care. I think the biggest challenge is with the politics and bureaucracy. That’s what wears me and I suspect most people down. Every day I try to take a moment to look around the Unit, where children and people are so often suffering, and be grateful.

How do you address these challenges?

Perspective. I need only to look at a bed space to realize how blessed I am. I also remain very clear on why I stay: I love the work and the meaning it brings to my life, and the life of others.

I also genuinely love my colleagues – those I work with every day and my #FOAMed and St. Emlyn’s colleagues around the world. Even though I whine at times, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

I am also slowly learning that sometimes you just have to say “No.” In the age of social media in particular, people can have no concept of how many times a day you get asked to do a favour, give an opinion, offer referrals, provide counselling, send articles, or advice. I try to keep up with demands because I feel passionately about people and the work however, I am trying to be a good mother and finish my PhD, and in the last few months have had to profusely apologize and just say “No.”

Best advice you have received for maintaining health?

Find things you love to do and then it’s never a chore, it’s just your lifestyle.

These days when friends want to catch up, I usually suggest a walk and breakfast. You will be surprised how quickly 10 kms comes around! I can see my much loved friends, exercise, eat, and then get into the day.

My brother also keeps telling me to stop eating chips (crisps), but I can’t. They are my kryptonite!

Sometimes you have to say “No.”

Who would you love for us to track down to answer these questions?

Simon Carley
Natalie May
Chris Nickson (does he ever sleep?)

 


Zafrina Poonja, MD

Zafrina Poonja, MD

ALiEM Assistant Editor,
How I Stay Health in EM series
Emergency Medicine Resident
University of Alberta