Over the last 50 years, the rates of women graduating from medical school have increased leaps and bounds, from women representing 7% of US graduates in the 1960s to ~47% in the 2010s.1 The How I Work Smarter Series has had an appreciable yet still unbalanced number of women participants, with slightly more than 35% of posts from women leaders. However, in the top echelon of medicine, women are still dramatically under represented. According to AAMC, only 15% of department chairs are women.2 Dr. Deborah Diercks is one of these 15%. As the newly appointed Chair of UT Southwestern Emergency Department, she has not only taken on departmental leadership, but is also playing a key role in the creation of two entirely new hospitals whose emergency departments will be staffed by UT Southwestern. This is pretty much the definition of task overload, yet she still manages to publish regularly and completed her How I work Smarter entry faster than most. Impressive. She kindly took a moment to share a few pearls.

  • Name: Deborah DiercksDiercks Square sml
  • Location: UT Southwestern
  • Current job: Professor and Department Chair
  • One word that best describes how you work: Cooperatively
  • Current mobile device: iPhone 6S
  • Current computer: Macbook Air

What’s your office workspace setup like?

Diercks Office

We are in a temporary office space so I can’t take credit for anything in it. I have a table with chairs, a desk, and 2 empty bookshelves. I never meet with people sitting at my desk so the table is the most used piece of furniture in my office.

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

Make your to-do list reasonable. If I don’t, I get to focused on what I won’t accomplish and not on what I need to do.

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

Just answer them everyday. Delete what you have addressed so you know what is left.

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

  • Halfway through my shifts I try to make sure I am caught up on all the charts that I have, that way I don’t leave too much for the end of the shift.
  • I like to see the patients as soon as possible so they don’t think of 30 other things that are bothering them.
  • Listen to the EMS report when you can. It gives you great information in a timely manner.

ED charting: Macros or no macros?

Macros, as long as you tailor them, they are a real time saver.

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

Define your own balance. Sometime we try to model ourselves after someone else and we have no idea of what their situation is.

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

Collaboration is the key to success. It makes the job fun and things easier to get done. If you work hard, are considerate, and get things done others will want to work with you.

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

  1. Cherri Hobgood
  2. Jeffrey Kline
  3. Alan Jones
Table 1. The State of Women in Academic Medicine: The Pipeline and Pathways to Leadership. Association of American Medical Colleges. https://www.aamc.org/download/411782/data/2014_table1.pdf. Published 2014.
The State of Women in Academic Medicine: The Pipeline and Pathways to Leadership, 2013-2014. Association of American Medical Colleges. https://www.aamc.org/members/gwims/statistics/. Published 2014.
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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