Dr. Bory Kea is an emergency physician and assistant professor, currently practicing in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Kea’s love for her family and friends, passion for food, and commitment to enhancing medicine are just a few ways that help her maintain a balance. Whether it’s hitting the trail for a run or running after her little ones, she is constantly trying to stay active. Her ability to appreciate even the small things, is nothing but infectious! Here’s how she stays healthy in EM!


  • Name: Bory KeaPassport
  • Location: Portland, Oregon
  • Current job(s): Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University
  • One word that describes how you stay healthy: Love (lots of love/affection for my family and friends)
  • Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Reading fiction (there are only so many academic papers I can read) and watching TV with my husband after the kids are asleep!

What are the top 3 ways you keep healthy?

  1. Family. My family is my foundation for everything. They keep me emotionally healthy and are my motivation to improve this world, so that they have a better one to live in. It’s interesting how my perspective has changed since having kids; my emotional depth is far greater than it was previously, my patience is an art as I learn to let go and let them fall but not fall off the cliff, my outlook is brighter as I see the wonder in their eyes of this amazing world, and yet, my disappointment in our world is also more profound as I worry about the legacy we (everyone on Earth) leave behind.
  1. Food. Foodies at heart! My husband and I have traveled for food. And now with kids, we still travel for food. Food feeds the soul.
  1. Travel. It gets a little cloudy and rainy in Portland (Fall, Winter, and Spring), so I make sure we get a break to some sunnier places so we’re not Vitamin D deficient.

What’s your ideal workout?

A 30 minute trail run without the kids would be ideal. This rarely happens now, so I resort to playing with the kids which includes running with them and after them. And once the weather turns nice, I bike to OHSU (yes, I’m a fair weather biker). My ideal bike day—early Spring: bike along the greenways (Portland has designated roads for bikes), cross the bike/pedestrian only path on the Steel Bridge over the Willamette river, bike along the waterfront with cherry trees in full bloom and petals falling like snowflakes, and then riding the OHSU tram from the waterfront to the top of the hill gazing at Portland’s cityscape with a backdrop of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and the Willamette River; and think, “I am one lucky doc.”

Do you track your fitness? How?

I use Runkeeper Pro to track my runs and bike rides.

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

Preparation: No caffeine after noon. I pre-sleep about 2 hours prior to my night shift (because I help put the kids to sleep), drink a chai latte early in the shift (up to 1 am) to have a little caffeine but not too much caffeine so I can sleep when I get home.

Recovery: I try to go to sleep as soon as I get home with ear plugs and a dark room because I always wake up by noon–no matter how many hours I sleep. I don’t drink any caffeine post-night shift so that I can easily fall asleep and get back on schedule.

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

To be honest… graham crackers and saltines which are easily accessible to the doc station. If I remember to pack them, granola bars. Right now, I’m pumping so it’s a good excuse to eat while I pump. I tend to bring a PB and J sandwich, leftovers, or a granola bar. If I don’t eat, no milk for Enzo (my 8 mo old)! I make sure I bring a water bottle as well to stay hydrated. I like the ones with a bite-block (Camelbak) since I’m less likely to spill them next to the computer, and I’m more likely to drink it if I don’t have to unscrew the lid.

How do you ensure you are mentally in check?

I’m not sure what this means exactly. I listen to public broadcasting (such as NPR) when I drive. This has made me more aware of current news (since I am not as social media savvy as Graham Walker and such, but I’m learning). I get news feeds into my inbox on medical topics I’m interested in, and then at least, skim the titles/abstracts of the big journals.

Emotionally, my partner is my springboard for ideas, my therapist for venting, and my cheerleader for my success.

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

Challenges: Burnout and becoming jaded.

While there are different paths in EM, the primary goal is usually not to get promoted, learn a new skill set, lead a company, etc…, so finding ways to avoid burnout is probably the biggest challenge. And yet, EM is a field with opportunities where you can lead and move up the promotion ladder, bring about quality improvement projects to see change, and bring in a new skill set, such as ultrasound, toxicology, etc…

I am fortunate to be in academic medicine where I do research, teach residents and medical students, and see patients. While this “balance” is difficult at times, it keeps the spark alive for me. I am propelled by my want to improve the state of healthcare. Research allows me to work with different people, think differently from clinical medicine both quantitatively and qualitatively, and an opportunity to change medicine on a larger scale.

Teaching medical students keeps the idealism of medicine alive where the world of insurance, or lack thereof, drug seekers, case management, and red tape, has disillusioned many physicians. And even though length of stay times matter in every ED, the academic idealism of “do the best for the patient,” is still delicately weaved into the fabric of how we care for patients. And this concept feeds my soul.

And lastly, I try to remember that every difficult patient was once a child and loved by someone.

Best advice you have received for maintaining health?

Compromise. There is no such thing as balance. You cannot do everything well, and there will times you can do certain things well and some other things not so well. Learn to accept it.

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

Renee Hsia

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.