Dr. Evelyn Kim is an emergency physician from Portland, Oregon. When she is not busy in the ED, she can be found spending time outdoors, getting in a run or bike ride. For Dr. Kim, staying well means keeping this simple and sticking to your priorities. Her constant reflection on her daily work is something we could all learn from! Here’s how she stays healthy in EM!

 

  • Name: Evelyn Kim, MD
  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Current job(s): Staff Emergency Physician, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Oregon Health and Sciences University
  • 1 word that describes how you stay healthy: Simplicity
  • Primary behavior/activity to help de-stress: Work less, spend more time outdoors

What are the top 3 ways you keep healthy?

  1. Work less. I work less than full time. There’s going to be a theme here.
  2. Get outdoors. I try to get outside everyday, and at least go for a walk. Even here in soggy Portland, Oregon.
  3. Priorities. I prioritize spending time with people who make me happy. Many of those people include my current and former residents at OHSU.

What is your ideal workout?

Mountain biking with Rob Orman. He’s an even better mountain biker than he is a podcaster!

Do you track your fitness? How?

Not formally. But when I start to feel mad or short-tempered, I know I need to get outside and run or ride my bike. I do have a Strava account, but it’s mostly to track what my badass EM friends and colleagues are doing.

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

I work fewer shifts overall, and therefore fewer nightshifts. I only do 1-2 nights per month and that makes recovery less of an issue. My group also has wisely chosen to keep the night shifts to 7 hours, which makes a big difference. I’m naturally a night owl, and I think that helps a lot.

Pre-shift: Before a night shift, I spend the day normally, preferably accomplishing a task or getting some exercise. Late afternoon, I take a homeopathic dose of zolpidem and try to get about 3 hours of pre-shift sleep.

Post-shift: I try to get to bed right when I get home, but it’s becoming quite elusive these days (I never saw that coming in my youth). I usually end up staying awake the rest of the day and going to bed at my usual time. I make a special effort to get exercise outdoors after a night shift. It always makes me feel better.

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

I eat massive amounts of peanut butter, saltines, and graham crackers, which are generously provided by our hospital (the snacks aren’t really just for the patients, are they?)

How do you ensure you are mentally in check?

Metacognition. I try my best to challenge my decision-making throughout my shift. Having residents around also keeps me honest. I leave my iPhone in the office so that I’m not potentially distracted by it. And finally, I work less, so I’m always ready for a shift. Most days, I actually look forward to coming in to work.

What are the biggest challenges you face in maintaining a longstanding career in EM? How do you address these challenges?

Burnout and compassion fatigue are the dangers everyone knows about. To me, the biggest danger is losing our sense of purpose. Being an emergency medicine physician can be much more than just a job, it truly is a calling.

Shift work, demanding patients, indifferent administrators, and electronic charting are always going to be a part of our practice. But, if you can look away from the microscopic view, where you suffer these indignities on a daily basis, and instead focus on the macroscopic view of the good that we are doing for the public, then this job can still be inspiring.

Best advice you have received for maintaining health?

You’ve got to want to see the patients, otherwise, you’re in the wrong line of work.

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

Craig Newgard

Zafrina Poonja, MD

Zafrina Poonja, MD

Editor, How I Stay Healthy in EM series
Emergency Medicine Resident
University of Alberta
Zafrina Poonja, MD

@zafrinapoonja

Emergency Medicine Physician @ Vancouver General Hospital. Assistant Editor @ALiEMteam. Lover of travel, soccer, and boat shoes.