Dr. Chaiya Laoteppitaks is an emergency physician practicing in Philadelphia. When he’s not busy with his Assistant Program Director duties at Einstein Medical Center, he can be found mastering the art of cooking for his family and friends. Planning his days and weeks, ensures that he maintains his balance, and makes time for his wellness and family too! Here’s how he stays healthy in EM!

  • Name: Chaiya Laoteppitakschaiya laoteppitaks
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA (but I live over the river in NJ)
  • Current job(s): Assistant Program Director, Unofficial technical support
  • One word that describes how you stay healthy: Don’t panic
  • Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Spending time with family

What are the top ways you keep healthy?

I think it’s a bit funny that I was nominated for this series. In some ways, I’m not as healthy now compared with how I was as a medical student and resident. Certainly, structured exercise, and by that I mean a planned/scheduled work out has disappeared from my life. Then again, there’s more to being healthy than the physical aspect. I like to cook and most days of the week I’m making dinner for my family. I enjoy cooking and I enjoy trying out new recipes. I like the challenge of having two or three things cooking and trying to get it all to finish at the same time. The other thing I do with my free time is spending time with my kids. I’ve got a 5- and a 3-year-old and they are active!

What’s your ideal workout?

A few years ago, it would have been a few hours in the climbing gym or a nice run outside. Nowadays, it is keeping up with my kids.

Do you track your fitness? How?

Nope. I do periodically get on a scale….

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

During residency, I started a rigid routine for pre- and post-nights. I get as much of a regular night’s sleep the night before. The day of my night shift, I avoid caffeine and then I take a 4.5-hour nap before my shift. After my nights, I sleep 4.5 hours and then get up and try to have as much of a normal day as possible. At some point, I learned that you wake up more alert if you’re at the end of sleep cycle. The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long and a three-hour nap wasn’t enough, so now it’s 4.5 hours. Power naps are also key. I am blessed in that I can sleep at the drop of a hat, and even a 5-minute nap can give me a lot of extra energy.

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

You have to eat during a shift. It’s just not healthy to go 12 hours running around and not eat. A granola bar, some graham crackers, and a bag of Cheetos (I love Cheetos!) does me a lot of good.

How do you ensure you are mentally in check?

Eat something when you’re hungry. Drink something when you’re thirsty. Go to the bathroom when you need to go.

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

The biggest challenge I face is the work-life integration. Making sure I spend time with my family at the same time being efficient about my professional time, so that I can advance my career.

My wife and I are both busy and the one thing that really helps is having a calendar that we share.

 Best advice you have received for maintaining health?

“Eat your veggies!” – Mom

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

Megan Stobart-Gallagher
Audrey Tan


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.