Dr. Matt Fields is an emergency physician and Director of the Ultrasound Fellowship program at Thomas Jefferson University. For Dr. Fields, a large part about staying well is prioritizing and keeping things in perspective. His strategies for wellness include constant reflection, knowing your limits, and having activities that allow you to decompress. His love for running, allows him to stay active and appreciate his surrounding environment. Check out how he stays healthy in emergency medicine!

  • Matt FieldsName: Matt Fields
  • Location: Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson University
  • Current job(s): Ultrasound Director
  • One word that describes how you stay healthy: Perspective
  • Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Running or other physical activity

What are the top 3 ways you keep healthy?

  1. Leave work at work. I make it a point to not take work home with me.
  2. Reflect. Constantly taking the time to clear my mind, helps keep me on point.
  3. Have a de-stressing activity. This can be many things. Personally, I like to run.

What’s your ideal workout?

Night running. A night jog along the Schuylkill or across the Ben Franklin bridge can be amazing, especially when the skyline comes into view.

Do you track your fitness? How?

I use the Nike app for running, but that is more just for fun. Internally, I notice that when I don’t work out regularly I am more tired and less happy.

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

Anchor sleep!! Getting in good sleep is key. I try to go to sleep 4-6 hours prior to my shift. If you can, build yourself a windowless soundproof extra bedroom. If that is not feasible earplugs and a sleeping mask may do.

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

Iced coffees and protein bars. I’ve recently discovered that drinking lots of water helps quite a bit.

How do you ensure you are mentally in check?

I constantly tell myself that I’m good enough, smart enough and, gosh darnit, people like me! Thankfully, I’ve learned to stop saying these things out loud at the patient’s bedside.

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

The biggest challenge I see in EM is the evolution of healthcare and the potential for burnout. More and more EM physicians are being pushed into non-traditional roles including doctor triage models, telemedicine, and observation. These are roles that many of us did not anticipate and may lead to burnout. It is important to find a balance in your group and seek out a work environment that suits you. Most importantly it is important to find that part of EM that you really love and embrace that. Try to make that part of your actual job with clinical buy down if possible. Also make sure you have hobbies and interests outside the hospital that you can turn to when you just need a break.

Best advice you have received for maintaining health?

  1. Don’t stress. As one of my mentors said, “the patient’s blood pressure may go up, but yours shouldn’t.”
  2. Avoid getting into fights or arguments with patients or other services in the hospital. No one ever wins.

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

Carl Alsup
Greg Wanner
Moran Oakland

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.