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I am Dr. Greg Wanner, Emergency Medicine Resident: How I Stay Healthy in EM

Zafrina Poonja, MD |

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-CWannerPhoto
  • 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?

  1. Eat well. Both healthy eating and occasionally eating my favorite less-healthy foods, paired with a nice (inexpensive) bottle of wine.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:

  1. Take a pre-shift nap for at least 1-2 hours.
  2. Caffeinate, drink plenty of water, and eat during the shift.
  3. Get charts done early! Falling asleep on the keyboard is uncomfortable…


  1. 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.
  2. Don’t drink too much before going to bed—any desire to sleep will be overpowered by a full bladder.
  3. 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?

Bon Ku
Richard Bounds
Masashi Rotte

Author information

Zafrina Poonja, MD

Zafrina Poonja, MD

Editor, How I Stay Healthy in EM series
Emergency Medicine Resident
University of Alberta

The post I am Dr. Greg Wanner, Emergency Medicine Resident: How I Stay Healthy in EM appeared first on ALiEM.

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