Dr. Philippe Ouellet (@OuelletEM) is a 4th year emergency medicine resident from McGill University. Despite being in his 4th year, Dr. Ouellet has managed to fit wellness into the chaos of residency. Drawing from his mentors and other resources, Dr. Ouellet is constantly trying to find ways to optimize his time. His love for biking, not only keeps him active, but also keeps him mentally sound. Here’s how he stays healthy in emergency medicine!

  • Name: Philippe Ouelletd92418f3a32f111d5cf4f7f24d573991
  • Location: Montréal
, Quebec
  • Current job(s): 4th year resident, McGill EM
  • One word that describes how you stay healthy: Efficiency
  • Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Biking in traffic

What are the top 3 ways you keep healthy?

  1. Biking
  2. Not drinking too much
  3. Continually evaluating my schedule and working on my organization

What’s your ideal workout?

Biking to work during rush hour, and getting there much faster than if I took the metro or drove. It not only is my ideal workout, but it also oxygenates my brain pre-shift and gets me active and ready to go!

Do you track your fitness? How?

I do use an app on my phone to track the distance of my bike rides. Although, I usually forget to turn it on!

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

Preparation: I get up early that day, get some work done, and usually indulge in brunch before going to sleep in the late afternoon. I try to get at least 6 hours of sleep prior to shift.

Recovery: If I work and I am working another night, I usually nap 2-3 hours when I get home, and then repeat my previous routine (+/- brunch). If it is my last night, I usually nap for about 4 hours when I get home, and then get up and try to stay awake for as long as I can. I usually work on tasks that require a low amount of “brain power”, and then make it an early night.

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

I’m really bad at this! I can tell I’m running low on energy, when I start getting impatient with my patients, especially when it’s a super cute elderly patient. That’s my cue to go and take a quick break and recharge.

I try to bring food from home, because it is SO much better than what the cafeteria has to offer.

How do you ensure you are mentally in check?

Taking the time to organize my tasks and my life. I have been a fan of Getting Things Done, and have optimized the way I deal with “to-do’s”. Any tasks that don’t need immediate attention get externalized until I have to worry about them. This offloading makes a huge difference, and takes a lot off of my current cognitive load.

By taking a little more time to organize initially, I not only have been able to reduce my stress levels, but have also optimized my time, giving me a few extra hours of free time. This free time is usually spent with loved ones, catching up on sleep, and participating in activities that increase my overall wellness.

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

Not there yet. I’m trying to develop an expertise in a subspecialty that’ll keep me going for years. By diversifying, I think I have less risk of getting bored and burning out.

Best advice you have received for maintaining health?

“You can’t do everything. You have to choose.”
– My Mom

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

Andreas Krull
Josh Wang
Guillaume Lacombe

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.