I am Dr. Michael Schick, Co-Director of Technology Enabled Active Learning: How I Stay Healthy in EM

Dr. Michael Schick is an emergency physician from the University of California. Dr. Schick keeps well by maintaining resiliency and always trying to find that fine balance. When he is not busy in the department, he can be found staying active or spending time with his family. Here’s how he stays healthy in EM!

 


  • Name: Michael Schick, DO MA
  • Location: University of California, Davis
  • Current job(s): Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Co-Director of Technology Enabled Active Learning at the School of Medicine
  • One word that describes how you stay healthy: Resilience
  • Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Time with family and exercise

What are the top 3 ways you keep healthy?

  1. Inspiration. To stay healthy as an academic emergency physician I believe you need to focus on those areas that bring you joy, you have passion for, and that inspire you to keep pushing forward. My clinical work with residents, educational roles at the school of medicine, and global work maintains my professional and emotional well-being.
  2. Family. My family is my greatest support and motivation to stay healthy. I need to stay limber enough to wrestle with my daughter, fast enough to play soccer with my son, and active enough to keep up with my wife.   
  3. Exercise. Staying active is key. Being active in the outdoors is even better.

What’s your ideal workout?

My ideal workout used to be playing soccer or ultimate Frisbee. Recently, I have transitioned to lower impact workouts. Ideally, I will swim and finish with some weights. In reality, I will make it to the gym 1-2 times per week and fill in other days with walking the dog combined with lunges, push-ups, etc and biking with the family.

Do you track your fitness? How?

I do not formally track my fitness. I visibly monitor my gut size and days/hours I have spent exercising. Occasionally I take my blood pressure.

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

There is what you did pre and post children. During the pre-children era, I would nap before a night shift. Now, I typically do not sleep before a night shift. I drink coffee and power through. The following morning, I eat a light breakfast and decompress with a TV show. I wear black out eye covers, turn on a noisy fan for white noise, and get as much sleep as I can before it is time to pick up the kids from school. I take melatonin the following night to help me transition back to a “normal” schedule (whether it is a placebo effect or not).

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

Packing food is always the best strategy. Ideally, I pack healthy snacks that I can eat quickly, do not require heating, and have little chance of spilling all over my computer. Portion control is an important part of staying healthy.

How do you ensure you are mentally in check?

Have a support team to ground you (my family at home and amazing emergency colleagues at work). I used to keep more “inside”, but I now try to talk about the things I find most frustrating, terrifying, or disheartening (at appropriate times). When I become overwhelmed I go outside and preferably exercise to clear my head. Music and mindful reflection helps too. I try to remind myself the privilege I have been provided as an emergency physician, the wonderful life I have had so far, and the many amazing things that are yet to come.

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

I am not unique when I say I tend to take on too many projects and feel overworked at times. I am early in my career and I may never find the perfect balance of work and the rest of life, but it doesn’t mean I won’t try. I am learning to say no when needed, to pursue the things that I want to drive my career, and make more time for things outside work. Prioritizing my family is key to my (and their) health. I am grateful for wonderful mentors and supportive colleagues that have helped me on my way. I am immensely fortunate to have an amazingly supportive spouse and department that pays true consideration to my wellness.

Best advice you have received for maintaining health?

My grandmother used to say, “everything in moderation”. I won’t control every calorie, but I will balance my lifestyle enough to stay healthy.

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

Sarah Medeiros
Megan Stobart
Lisa Mills

 

Author information

Zafrina Poonja, MD

Zafrina Poonja, MD

ALiEM Assistant Editor,
How I Stay Health in EM series
Emergency Medicine Resident
University of Saskatchewan

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