Dr. Anne Zink is an emergency physician practicing up north in Alaska! When she is not on the running trail, she can be found enjoying the breath taking views with her family. Dr. Zink has truly embraced her wellness and found a way to make it part of her day. Here’s how she stays healthy in EM!

Anne Zink

anne zink

  • Location: Palmer, Alaska
  • Current job(s): Medical Director Mat-Su Regional Hospital; Immediate Past-President of Alaska ACEP
  • One word that describes how you stay healthy: Friends! They are faster than me, so I have to keep in shape to hear what they are saying!
  • Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Hugging my kiddos or stopping to take in the view.

What are the top ways you keep healthy?

Moving to Alaska was probably the best thing I could have done from my health. While I thought I wanted to be at a big academic center, my husband wanted to move to Alaska for a few years and so we thought we would give it a try. I don’t set boundaries well and struggle with the word “no,” so living in a community that put health and wellbeing first has been wonderful! Work partners who are out doing great things and encourage you to do the same, family and friends who make time for community and connections rather than job promotions, and living at the base of an amazing mountain where I can just walk out the door with a cup of coffee and feel like I am “away” has done wonders for me. I found I could grow where I was planted and being planted in an environment focused on health has been transformational.

What’s your ideal workout?

A long bike ride, hike, or run with friends. I find a long, early morning cardio work out with friends sets my whole week straight. It provides both a place for a mental outlet to chat about work, family, and life, while giving me that long endurance workout where I feel like I accomplished something real. It also allows me to be outside, see amazing places, and feel grounded. I also try to do one trip every year or so with friends and exercise to really push myself and reset for the year.

Do you track your fitness? How?

I love my Garmin Forerunner 235. It does everything, it has a wrist heart rate monitor which I love so I can use it for everything from work, to basic movement, to hard workouts with heart rate and interval times.

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

Sleep to me is like a bingo card. I get it when I can. Sometimes two, 4-hour blocks, other times maybe 2 hours before a shift and 6 hours after, just some combination that adds up to 8 hours. It depends on how many I am working, my kids’ schedules, and daylight (20 hours of sun can make it challenging to get sleep in Alaska).

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

Eat. I know I also slow down on patients/hour when I get hungry so I really try to listen to my body during a shift and never let myself get really hungry. I treat a shift like a 10-hour bike ride, some calories every hour, and if I get to the point of intense hunger, I messed up. At home, I will be bad about it and go all day without eating, but at work, I really try to never get behind or things don’t go well.

How do you ensure you are mentally in check?

This is embarrassing to say, but I notice it first with my family. If I am tired, stressed, or burned out, it comes out first with being short with my family. This is not fair to them and it is a good check to get it together fast.

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

The question of clinical practice versus policy and politics. I see others get burned out when they feel like the system controls them and they are left feeling hopeless. Finding ways to bend the system while still practicing, I think, is key to long term success in EM. The challenge, however, is to not take on the burdens of the world and try to fix everything at once.

Best advice you have received for maintaining health?

Your health is wealth, so schedule it like anything else and make it a priority.

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

Jay Kaplan
Steve Hartsell
Heather Marshall


Zafrina Poonja, MD

Zafrina Poonja, MD

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


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