In her original post for the “How I Work Smarter” series, Editor-in-Chief Michelle Lin (@M_Lin) called out Dr. Esther Choo (@choo_ek), who then called out Dr. Lainie Yarris (@lainieyarris) from OHSU… and in an unexpected turn of events, Lainie then somehow decided to tag me. How odd… Lainie is a mentor of one of my friends, and she’s been kinda a hero to me, so I find that this is both flattering and somewhat flabbergasting… There is no way I fit within the ranks of those others’ whom have been tagged in this wonderful game of academic “you’re it…”, but as the great Barney Stinson once said: “Challenge accepted.”

  • Teresa ChanName:  Teresa Chan, HBSc, BEd, MD, FRCPC, MHPE (Candidate) (Yes, I love school that much).
  • Location: McMaster University
  • Current job: Assistant Professor (Clinician Educator track); Evaluation/Assessment Subcommittee Chair, McMaster Royal College Emergency Medicine Program
  • One word that best describes how you work: Bolus
  • Current mobile device: iPhone 5S
  • Current computer: Mac Book Pro (15 inch, Retina Display)

What’s your Office Workspace Setup Like?

I’m a pretty mobile person presently. I like to work different places, and having a 15-inch Mac Book Pro has helped increase my portability. This is my desk at the Divisional offices.


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

  1. If you have an office, make the effort to actually go IN to work. You will find that this puts your mind into the “work mode” when you’re there. If you don’t have an office (which was me, up until really about 1 year ago), make the resident office your space, or go to a defined spot at your local coffee shop.
  2. Meetings via Google Hangouts or Skype can change your life. Not only can make you much more efficient (less travel!), it can increase your ability to collaborate across continents or just to the next city.

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

Check your email. Constantly. Read and mark-as-unread those that warrant attention. Most you can answer quickly. You’d be surprised how many people are highly forgiving if an email is tagged “Sent from my iPhone”.

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

Strategic deployment of learners is probably a skill that I have most recently acquired. Take a few moments to profile your learner and then make sure you use them in the way they are best utilized. Sometimes a clinical clerk might need coaching, but they may take an AMAZING, thorough, and stellar history (complete with collateral history gathering from family, nursing home, etc..). Don’t be afraid to ask them to help.

ED charting: Macros or no macros?

I don’t think you can macros handwriting. I wish that were possible. I have entertained the idea of creating a template stamp for my medical records… That would be a lo-fi version of a macros, no?

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

Make sure you get the most out of each project. My EM clinician educator mentor Dr. Jonathan Sherbino and my grad studies professor Dr. Georges Bordage both have given me great insight into this phenomenon.

Georges explains it to every MHPE student at UIC study that we should make our scholarly endeavours (e.g. teaching or admin duties) count in more than one way. His famous saying is: “Make it count twice.”

Jonathan Sherbino, however, has extended this concept for me into the “Theory of Multiple Wins” which extends this to being about ensuring you translate your work into various formats so that you can be scholarly about the endeavour. For instance, the ALiEM MEdIC Series is an example of this… It is a scholarly teaching project which we:

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

In an effort to organize my life, I have created a “Dashboard” that I check once week. The dashboard is inspired by my research on ED tracker boards, and uses a colour coding system. Just like the ED tracker board, I run this list periodically and complete my “reassessments” of existing projects (i.e. sending off emails, checking up on results or progress on manuscripts, etc).

How I work Smarter

Here is a template copy of my little dashboard file. Feel free to download and make it your own!

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

  • Eve Purdy (med student!)
  • Felix Ankel
  • Jonathan Sherbino

Teresa Chan, MD, MHPE
ALiEM Associate Editor
Emergency Physician, Hamilton
Associate Professor, McMaster University
Assistant Dean, Program for Faculty Development, McMaster University Ontario, Canada
Teresa Chan, MD, MHPE


ERDoc. #meded #FOAMed Own views expressed. Contributor to @ALiEMteam, @WeAreCanadiEM, ICE Blog, #FeminEM. @MedEdLIFE founder. Works @McMasterU & @HamHealthSci