Staying well in the Emergency Department is not only important for physicians, but for the entire healthcare team. This week we are branching out, and taking a look at How Our ED Colleagues Stay Healthy in EM!

Jesse Spurr is an Emergency Department Nurse Educator in Brisbane Australia. Jesse is the creator of and co-creator of, a Teaching Course faculty, and a organising committee member for SMACC. In addition to his “professional hobbies”, Jesse is kept grounded and content with his two kids and superhero wife.

  • Name: Jesse Spurrjesse spurr
  • Location: Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia
  • Current job(s): Nurse Educator Emergency Department
  • One word that describes how you stay healthy: Practice
  • Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Exercise

What are the top 3 ways you keep healthy?

  1. Family. Keep family as my compass for decisions about work, travel, and other commitments.
  2. Train. I don’t just exercise; I train. Skill acquisition and measurable improvement are powerful motivators for me. 
  3. Stay Connected. Stay connected with friends, near and far; it helps me maintain perspective about my own ‘struggles’.

What’s your ideal workout?

CrossFit. I have been doing CrossFit for 16 months and it has completely reinvigorated my passion for fitness. The combination of complex novel skills from Olympic lifting, gymnastics, metabolic conditioning, the measurable improvements, competition, and the community culture have made me love training and put the rest of the world aside for 50 minutes a day, 6 times per week.

This photo captures the very essence of training for me – chased by my own shadow.

Do you track your fitness? How?

I use Nike+ Run Club App for GPS run tracking, and all CrossFit workouts are logged and tracked via Wodify App.

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

I recognised early in my career that night shifts and me weren’t friends and, in conjunction with a passion and aptitude for education, I was able to move into day-time work. While working night shifts, I found maintaining routines such as proper meals and exercise were vital for my functioning, mood, and sleep quality.

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

I have increasingly become a snacker rather than a meal type guy. Colleagues comment that every time they see me, I’m eating. The trick is I’m eating lots of nuts, fruit, and nutrient-dense snacks. I start the day with a high protein breakfast and avoid simple carbohydrates. Also, coffee!

How do you ensure you are mentally in check?

Training is again the answer. The pursuit of skill mastery in my physical training, especially while under extreme fatigue, provides a great schema for staying focused on other challenges at work and life. I have recently finally taken the leap into learning meditation and mindfulness practice. There are two great inspirations behind this: Scott Weingart’s ‘Kettlebells for the Brain’ and Ian Miller’s ‘MindfulNurse’.

For me, being in the surf silences the inner voices better than anything else I have found. Unfortunately, due to geography, I can’t do this every day.

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

There are 2 looming issues for me as a nurse leader in ED:

  1. The maintenance of compassion under the constant churn of time-based targets, excessive workload, and unrealistic community expectations.
  2. Professional autonomy in strengthening nurses working to the full scope of educated practice in a system that is obsessed with bringing the lowest common denominator to the median.

For me the protection against burnout is staying connected at a personal level, with patients, with ideals, with hospital administrators, with colleagues, and with my family. I think one of the biggest traps to fall into is working and interacting like we are in a crisis as opposed to recognizing this is the norm. The problem with working under crisis is the expectation that it is something to bunker down and wait out, then coming out and seeing things haven’t improved. We have to be the change.

Best advice you have received for maintaining health?

I had a coach recently help me find my ‘why’ for training. This is incredibly individual and really important. I think this quote sums it up perfectly…

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

Christopher Hicks
Natalie May
Ian Miller

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.