In this new installment in the “How I Work Smarter” series, we are featuring Dr. Ken Milne (@TheSGEM), is the creator and host of the stellar podcast series Skeptics’ Guide to Emergency Medicine (SGEM). This series focuses on really looking at the best available evidence for how and why we should practice EM. This series consistently puts out quality podcasts about the many challenges we deal with in the clinical arena on a day to day basis. Ken was called out by Dr. Anand Swaminathan in his Working Smarter blog post and kindly has agreed to share his trade secrets on how he works smarter.

  • MilneName: Ken Milne
  • Location: Ontario, Canada
  • Current job: Chief of Staff, South Huron Hospital Association. Creator, Skeptics’ Guide to Emergency Medicine
  • One word that best describes how you work: Enthusiastically 
  • Current mobile device: iPhone 4s
  • Current computer: MacBook Air

What’s your office workspace setup like?

At home I have a separate room to work. It has a docking station for my laptop. All my recording equipment is there for producing the SGEM podcast. My MacBook Air goes with me to hospital administrative office.

Milne Office Setup

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

To only have one system to use in all locations. This avoids lots of duplication and looking for information.I take my MacBook Air with me everywhere. It is backed up regularly to the cloud and also at home to a external hard drive.

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

Zero in-box. Try to deal with most things when email arrives, even if it is a quick response to move the issue forward. You can always address the situation in more detail at a later point.

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

Be nice to everyone (patients, staff, co-workers). It takes less time to be nice than to clean up the mess later. It is amazing how efficient you can be by just smiling, getting a warm blanket for a patient and showing up a few minutes early for your shift. Patient satisfaction increases and staff job satisfaction goes up too. You create a culture of caring and I believe it is associated with improved efficiency.

ED charting: Macros or no macros?

No EMR for charting… so no macros, just pen and paper.

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

Exercise every day. This will refresh you physically and mentally. You will ultimately get more done and be able to handle more stress.

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

Be skeptical, critical thinkers. It may take time at the start but understanding why we do things is important. The time it takes for high quality, clinically relevant information to reach the bedside is estimated at over 10 years. This is too long, and our patients expect and deserve better.

Knowing the evidence can improve our practice and help set realistic expectations. It is about choosing wisely which usually means choosing fewer tests not more. It takes less time to explain why something is not needed than it does waiting for the investigation to be performed and results to be reported. This allows you to see another patient who is also waiting anxiously to have their problem addressed.

So be skeptical, choose wisely, and care deeply.

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

  1. Rob Rogers
  2. Rob Orman
  3. Ryan Radecki
Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD