Dr. Christopher Doty (@PoppasPearls) is a dedicated educator who has helped train countless emergency physicians across two different top academic hospitals, SUNY-Downstate and currently the University of Kentucky. His efforts have earned him the Abraham Flexner Master Educator Award and the position of Vice Chair for Education at the University of Kentucky Department of Emergency Medicine. Oh, and also he can dance! In this How I Work Smarter series, Dr. Doty graciously accepted the nomination by Dr. Mike Stone to share how his approach to life management.


  • Name: Christopher I. DotyChris Doty Picture Square
  • Location: Lexington, Kentucky
  • Current job:  Vice Chair and Program Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Kentucky
  • One word that best describes how you work: Bolus
  • Current mobile device: iPhone 6
  • Current computer: iMac 27 inch  (all my desktops have 2 monitors – being able to work with 2-3 documents visible will change your life)

What’s your office workspace setup like?

I have two distinct areas in my office workspace. As the Program Director and Vice Chair, I sometimes require a concentrated/classic space (desk, desktop, phone, etc.) for me to handle the administrative requirements of the jobs.

Chris Doty work2

However, I also need a collaborative, open-space where I can work with others and think in a more unrestricted way. I believe that form and function are closely tied. In order to get more collaboration to occur in the space, it needs to be collaborative by nature (round table, area for brainstorming and free thought, etc.) The different spaces work well for me.

Christ Doty work1

I have a “war-board”. It’s a board of projects broken down into timeframes.

  • Priority
  • Upcoming
  • Short-term
  • Long-term
  • Wishlist

As I am able to clear things off the board, I leave a little shred of the post-it on the board.  It helps remember that I AM moving forward.  Sometimes, I need that reminder.  Every 3 months, I clean and re-arrange the board and removed the “dead soldiers”.

What’s your best time-saving tip in the office or home?

Never touch an email more than once if you can help it. Know what emails/issues require going back to. It is a life skill to learn: what to do right now and what will require more data (and therefore a second “touch”). Also, I use cloud storage for all my documents. I use a paid Dropbox account as my solution. Therefore all my computers have all the documents in the same place whether it be at a home or work machine; a desktop, tablet, or laptop; online or offline. In addition, all my documents are accessible in the cloud anywhere there is an internet connection (if I need something and I am without my laptop or tablet). The cloud also provides me with a online backup of all my documents in addition to my external hard drives.

What’s your best time-saving tip regarding email management?

Save a time for emailing and returning phone calls each day. If you constantly are checking and returning emails all day, two things begin to happen:

  1. You appear (and are) less attentive to the people you are around all day long, and that will degrade your relationship and collaboration with them.
  2. Of greater concern, you train others to expect an immediate response from you when they send you an email. What eventually happens is people will get frustrated that their non-urgent email took a whole 24 hours to be returned.

The same can happen with text messages. By setting aside a defined time to return emails and texts, you can control your schedule and keep emails from eating your entire life.

However, when I am alone, I use small chunks of downtime to read emails. I try to only answer truly urgent emails or delete/file emails that require no action on my part. These small downtimes can occur when I am waiting in line at the café, waiting for my work group to meet up, or while a colleague uses the restroom. These short 2-3 minutes blocks will add up during the day and will allow you to better use your reserved “email session” time.

What’s your best time-saving tip in the ED?

Eyeball the patient first and see any patients in adjacent rooms. We use a “pod-system” so I know exactly which patients will be mine as soon as they are placed in a bed. If I am seeing a patient in 55, I also stop into 53 even before the case is presented by the resident, so I have an idea of what is coming. That way, if the resident gives a presentation that is markedly divergent from what I saw, I can go back and focus on the case to clear it up. If the case seems straight forward, I have already seen the patient, and the work-up or disposition can commence immediately.

ED charting: Macros or no macros?

While the residents write the vast majority of the charts at my shop, I use macros whenever I can.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about work, life, or being efficient?

The job of being a Program Director can take more time and energy then you can ever possibly give to it. Setting reasonable and clear boundaries is critical to your longevity in the position. Honestly, this issue has been a struggle for me for my entire professional career. I don’t believe that there is a single person ever that upon their death bed muttered the words, “I wish I would have spent more time working”.  However, I want to leave a legacy at home and professionally. Balance is hard.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

I love my job. I love that I get to help build the next generation of educators, clinicians, and leaders. Personally, I think that Program Directors should spend much more time developing their skills as educators than their skills as administrators. However, I think many Program Directors do the opposite. As for me, I consider myself to be an educator more than I am a doctor.

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

  1. Haney Mallemat @CriticalCareNow
  2. Sean Fox @PedEMMorsels
Benjamin Azan, MD

Benjamin Azan, MD

Emergency Physician
Lincoln Medical Center
Founder/Editor of foambase.org
Benjamin Azan, MD


ED attending in NYC, #FOAMed enthusiast, #MedEd, founder of https://t.co/29SO7xxO8X
Benjamin Azan, MD

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