I first came to know of Dr. Lauren Westafer (@LWestafer) when she started the amazing The Short Coat blog as a medical student. I feel like such a slacker during medical school… She has quickly risen to the esteemed ranks of online medical education because of both the blog and her podcast, FOAMCast, with Dr. Jeremy Faust. Lauren has kindly agreed to share her tips for working more efficiently.


  • WestaferName: Lauren Westafer, DO MPH
  • Location: Northampton, MA USA
  • Current job: Emergency Medicine PGY-2 at Baystate Medical Center/Tufts University
  • One word that best describes how you work: Happily
  • Current mobile device: iPhone
  • Current computer: MacBook Pro


What’s your office workspace setup like?

As a resident, my office is wherever I am doing work and typically consists of my iPhone and MacBook and/or iPad.  Most of my “work” consists of studying and side-projects; thus, my work often gets done concurrently with activities of daily living. See my home and gym “offices”:

Westafer Laptop

Westafer Gym

My FOAMcast partner and I even pack our microphones whenever we travel to capitalize on free time.

Westafer Suitcase


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

While multi-tasking is largely a product of our imaginations, I try to work in environments or situations that make the work/studying more appealing. For example, for dedicated studying and complex tasks, I engage in that sole activity. For “extra” reading or projects and less cognitively strenuous tasks, I work while doing cardio at the gym or outdoors. As a result, I work happily while maintaining things in my life that augment my sense of balance (such as exercise, the outdoors, and cooking).

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

I process it as soon as I can, preferably in bulk, making use of a cornucopia of folders and calendars; however, I do not look at email whilst working clinically.

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

As a resident, I’m still relatively slow and methodical, but two things have helped my efficiency in addition to documenting as I work. I use auto-text for common complaints or practice patterns. For example, if I type .AMA in the chart text, it brings up my auto-text for patients that might be leaving or threatening to leave when I believe work-up/treatment are still warranted.  The auto-texts have fill-in-the-blanks, reminding me to tailor things to that patient but also prompt me to ensure I’ve addressed all of these facets with the patient. Building a good relationship with nurses, technicians, and even the folks who stock the rooms not only makes working more fun but can improve efficiency (getting a patient to x-ray, blood draws, etc).

ED charting: Macros or no macros?

Judicious use of macros, with a personal rule to not use them on sick or medically complex patients. Macros can lead to inaccurate documentation through mindless clicking.  Thus, in my evolving practice, many of mine have fill in the blank sections that remind me to reflect and thereby document key portions.

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

“Early is on-time, on-time is late, and late is unacceptable.” -Rugby Coach, Band Director

“Let the beauty we love be what we do” -Rumi

When we’re passionate about what we do, we tend to work more happily, sustainably, and diligently – choose projects that incite these feelings.

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

Using cloud-based resources such as Google Drive, DropBox, and Mendeley and ensuring pristine organization and systematic use of these resources has been invaluable.

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

  • Chris Nickson
  • Haney Mallemat
  • John Greenwood
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 https://t.co/50EapJORCa Bio: https://t.co/7v7cgJqNEn
Michelle Lin, MD