We are continuing our series with Dr. Dara Kass (@). In addition to being director of Undergraduate Medical Education at NYU/Bellevue in New York City, Dr. Kass has recently unveiled a new initiative: FemInEM. Along with Dr. Jenny Beck-Esmay (@) and several superstar section editors, Dr. Kass has debuted a site focused on professional development for women in Emergency Medicine. But FemInEM is more than just a blog: it seeks to bring open access principles to the traditional model of membership based professional women’s networks like Academy for Women in Academic Emergency Medicine (AWAEM) and American Association of Women Emergency Physicians (AAWEP). FemInEM will be a hub for mentorship, growth, leadership, wellness, and more, all specially geared to women in Emergency Medicine. How does Dr. Kass go about managing this ambitious initiative, full time work, medical students and family? She shares her insights into working efficiently.
- Name: Dara Kass
- Location: New York NY
- Current job: Director of Undergraduate Medical Education, NYU/Bellevue
- One word that best describes how you work: Deliberately
- Current mobile device: iPhone 5 (I always make sure to have an older iPhone so it doesn’t get stolen on the subway).
- Current computer: Laptop: MacBook Air. Desktop: PC
My life is about survival. Moving between clinical shifts, academic productivity and family responsibilities means that I am always working on something somewhere. I live my life entirely in the cloud to utilize my work time efficiently. My home office, work office and laptop are all loaded with the applications I need to recreate my space. When I sit down to work I open the following windows:
- Gmail (5 accounts)
- Gmail calendar (embedded with my work calendar)
- Outlook (work email)
- Slack (for all team based activities)
- NirvanaHQ (manages my lists and to-dos)
- Facebook (keeps me up to date in my real world)
- AND then whatever transient spaces I might need. (power point, excel, etc)
What’s your office workspace setup like?
I have 3 main office spaces:
My desk at Bellevue is the hub of my non-clinical productivity. It is across from my coordinator and allows me to be available for face time at work.
The office at home is really my husband’s (hence the 3 screens). Door closes, 3 screens are mobilized and I can see EVERYTHING. This space is great for research or generating spreadsheets.
My kitchen is where I get my least important work done. I am usually returning emails while my kids are eating breakfast or (gasp!) watching TV.
What’s your best time-saving tip in the office or home?
My life outside the ED is very similar to a clinical shift:
- I set my tasks in order of priority and ease of accomplishment and tick things off one at a time. Smart workers are good at task-switching quickly, not really multi-tasking. Never actually do 2 things at once but also never do things more than once.
- I use time that would be wasted (ex. on hold with the cable company) to accomplish mindless tasks (like making a doctor’s appointment for my kids) so that I can focus when truly working.
- I close the door to my office.
- I move forward when things are done and don’t second guess my decisions.
What’s your best time-saving tip regarding email management?
Inbox ZERO. Delete or move. The only emails in my inbox or ones that require a thoughtful response and I haven’t had time to generate one. That’s probably less than 5 a day. Then respond and delete.
What’s your best time-saving tip in the ED?
Task-switch, use your team, and trust your instincts. Let other people do their job so you can do yours. If you are putting in your own IVs or getting your patients a pillow, you are not seeing the next patient or writing your chart. At the same time, be aware of how your team is doing. If all the techs are busy with 1:1s and your patient needs help to the bathroom to give you a urine sample; then help the patient to the bathroom. You will be surprised how understanding the flow of the patients and the staff can help you move through a shift more efficiently.
ED charting: Macros or no macros?
I hate a blank page. I much prefer editing to writing and that’s why I love macros. Yes, use them but never without strong edits.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about work, life, or being efficient?
- Own your journey.
- Work hard when you are working and live your best life.
- Don’t make excuses for loving what you do and don’t feel conflicted if you want to take a break. I work constantly and without apology. I am also raising 3 amazing kids, supporting my husband’s non-medical career and trying to make the most of each day.
- Enjoy your shifts, get to know your patients and figure out what makes you happy.
If you can do that you will always work smart.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?
Collaborate whenever possible. People who work smartly don’t work alone. Find good people, make them better and they will do the same for you. Working as a member of a team is more rewarding and often more productive then doing it all yourself.