I am Dr. Greg Wanner, Emergency Medicine Resident: How I Stay Healthy in EM
Dr. Wanner (@GregWanner) is an emergency medicine resident from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Having been a physician assistant educator in EM for several years prior to his residency, he brings a wealth of experience on how to stay well. Despite this busy schedule, he still finds time to keep fit and spend time with this two daughters. Dr. Wanner is a big supporter of “laughter is the best medicine”. Here’s how he stays healthy in emergency medicine!
- Name: Gregory Wanner, DO, PA-C
- Location: Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia PA
- Current job(s): PGY-3 Emergency Medicine Resident, Dad (two daughters, ages 3.5 years and 9 months), Physician Assistant Educator (previously a PA in EM for several years)
- One word that describes how you stay healthy: Relaxation
- Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Coffee and naps, not necessarily in that order.
What are the top 3 ways you keep healthy?
- Eat well. Both healthy eating and occasionally eating my favorite less-healthy foods, paired with a nice (inexpensive) bottle of wine.
- Work/life balance. Admittedly, I’m still working on this one. Having kids as a resident is tough; there are no duty-hour restrictions as a parent. Fortunately my wife is incredible, and dancing around the house with my 3 year-old is always a great way to turn off my work-brain. I’m a horrible dancer, by the way.
- Get outside. In the past it was skiing and golf, now it’s more playgrounds and sandcastles. I also enjoy long walks on the beach…
What’s your ideal workout?
Krav Maga. Krav is an Israeli military self-defense system and a wonderful workout. Sparring with a bunch of sweaty guys/gals is a great way to burn calories and relieve stress. I also recommend taking a chlorhexidine shower afterwards.
Do you track your fitness? How?
I weigh myself on a bathroom scale every few weeks, does that count?
How do you prepare for a night shift? How do you recover from one?
Preparation: Over my ten years of night shifts (including nearly two years of full-time nights as a PA), I have come up with some strategies for night shift survival:
- Take a pre-shift nap for at least 1-2 hours.
- Caffeinate, drink plenty of water, and eat during the shift.
- Get charts done early! Falling asleep on the keyboard is uncomfortable…
- Eat before heading to bed in the morning. Eat something small, not too heavy; no chili or deep dish pizza. My usual mini-meal is raisin bread with peanut butter and a hefty swig of orange juice.
- Don’t drink too much before going to bed—any desire to sleep will be overpowered by a full bladder.
- Dark room and white noise. We have room-darkening curtains, but covering windows with a dark sheet or towels also works, although it is much less fashionable. Turn on some “white noise,” either a smartphone app (with the phone in airplane mode) or a loud fan will help drown out the sounds of sirens or squealing children. We also have a remarkable babysitter who manages to keep kid screams to a minimum.
How do you avoid getting “hangry” (angry due to hunger) on shift?
I typically bring a sandwich, banana, and an energy bar. I often forget to eat any of these items until after my shift. Not recommended.
How do you ensure you are mentally in check?
In most aspects of life I try to use a little bit of humor. At work my goal is to provide nearly every patient with a small therapeutic giggle. At home I try to redirect misbehaving offspring with laughter, rather than getting angry. If unsuccessful, I re-evaluate my own stress levels.
What are the biggest challenges you face in maintaining a longstanding career in EM? How do you address these challenges?
The day-night transitions and constant pace of EM can become difficult over time. A change in scenery is important. I have been working to develop my other interests, including education and disaster medicine, as a way to eventually pull back a bit on clinical time.
Best advice you have received for maintaining health?
“Get enough sleep. Have fun but live within your means. Schedule a colonoscopy and prostate exam in fifteen years.”
Who would you love for us to track down to answer these questions?
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