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Wellness Section Newsletter - September 2011

circle_arrowMake Plans to Attend the Wellness Section Annual Meeting - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011
circle_arrowScientific Assembly 2011 - San Francisco, California - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011
circle_arrowUnplugging To Be Present - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011
circle_arrowWellness Section is Awarded 2011 Grant - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011
circle_arrowTime for Intermission.... - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011

Make Plans to Attend the Wellness Section Annual Meeting - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011

Make plans to attend the Wellness Section meeting at Scientific Assembly! 

Wellness Section Meeting
Saturday, October 15, 2011
10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Union Square 19 (4th Floor, Tower 3)
@ the Hilton San Francisco 

Elections for Chair-elect, Newsletter Editor, and Alternate Councilor will be held during the meeting.

Scientific Assembly 2011 - San Francisco, California - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011

I like to think of the Scientific Assembly each year as the perfect mix between a vacation and work; it is an opportunity to get together with colleagues to network and learn while at the same time having the chance to explore new places, relax and rejuvenate. San Francisco is a great place to do all of the above and I want to highlight some wellness offerings at our annual meetings and some great experiences that the city has to offer. 

Wellness Offerings  

ACEP Member Wellness Booth (Booth 834 in the Exhibit Hall): The booth will be open during exhibit hours and will be providing a burnout questionnaire, blood pressure check, blood work, body fat screening and vaccinations. You can pre-register for the Wellness Booth when you register for the conference. 

Guided Morning Meditation (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at 8:00am in Room 214 at the Convention Center): A guided one hour meditation will be offered at this time. The room will also be available from 8 am to 5 pm for members looking for a quiet, contemplative space. 

Guided Yoga (Sunday and Monday, at Noon in Room 214 at the Convention Center): Looking to stretch a bit after sitting all morning? Come for a fifty minute yoga class led by a certified yoga instructor. Mats and props will be provided. 

Parents with Infants Lounge (Saturday, Sunday and Monday in Room 216 of the Convention Center): Need a quiet place to get away with your infant? This room will be available during conference hours. 

Learn Your Communication Style: An Interactive Workshop (Saturday 10:30am at the Hilton Hotel, the Union Square 19 Room): Communication is an important part of our work and personal lives. This workshop will help you to identify your communication style and give you tips on how to effectively interact with others whose styles are different from yours. 


Well-being Committee is Sunday, 4:00pm-5:30pm at the Hilton Hotel, Franciscan D

Wellness Section Meeting is Saturday, 10:30am-12:30pm at the Hilton Hotel, Union Square 19

AA Group Meeting is Sunday, 7:00am-8:00am in Room 218 at the Convention Center

NA Group Meeting is Monday 7:00am-8:00am in Room 218 at the Convention Center 

For the many wellness-related courses, please check the course catalog when you are registering.  

Being Well in the City by the Bay 

San Francisco is a great city to get out and enjoy and the weather should be perfect in October. Please check with your hotel for offerings close to where you are staying but here are a few suggestions close to the convention center and Union Square. 

San Francisco is a great walking and running city. As most of the hotels for the convention are in or close to Union Square, I have included a course for walking or running that takes off from around the square. 


Head out on any of the east-west streets from Union Square (Sutter, Post, Geary, O’Farrell) to Market St. and take a left. Running down Market St. will bring you to the Ferry Building. If you walk or run to the right of the Ferry Building, it will take you to AT&T Park. If you take a left, it will take you to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. 

Speaking of the Ferry Building, it is a great place to spend some time. There are many restaurants and shops that sell interesting things (food, books, cooking utensils, etc). On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, there is a farmer’s market, were you can buy local food and produce. 

Finally, San Francisco is a great city for awesome food. Two choices that are close to Union Square and that focus of fresh food are Millennium Restaurant at 580 Geary Street ( and Cafe Gratitude at 2400 Harrison St. ( 

We hope that you enjoy the Scientific Assembly and enjoy San Francisco! 

Unplugging To Be Present - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011

Lori Weichenthal, MD, FACEP 

Weichenthalbeach810You have worked hard, saved money and planned a perfect vacation. As you are packing, you wonder if there is anything that you are leaving behind. Perhaps as you double check your list of things to take, you should consider leaving your computer and smartphone behind. 

Several recent surveys polling people from a variety of professions reveal that around ninety percent of us do some type of work on vacation using computers or smartphones. The amount of work done varies from “only responding to emergencies” to “working constantly on vacation” but regardless, it means that we are not really present and enjoying our time off. Vacations are vital to our wellbeing and if we are not using the time to truly get way, some of the health benefits of these breaks from the day to day grind may be lost. 

An article in the New York Times, Planning the Perfect Vacation, suggests several ways to help prevent the creep of technology into our time off. The first and foremost recommendation is to leave the electronics at home. If this seems too extreme to you, try traveling somewhere where lack of reception will keep you out of a constant state of connection. I recently took a backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park and after some initial anxiety about not knowing what was going on at work or at home, it was great to not feel the need to constantly be in communication with work and other daily obligations. 

If both of these options seem too extreme, two other options are to disable your work email while you are on vacation or at the very least, inform your colleagues that you will be away and to only email you regarding important matters. 

And finally, if all the above suggestions seem too extreme, consider starting slowly by just taking one day off the grid. Take one non-work day and leave your computer and phone off. Go for a hike, to a theme park, a sporting event or other enjoyable activity and see how you do being disconnected. 

You might find that unplugging gives you the chance to fuel up so that when you reconnect, you are more effective.

Wellness Section is Awarded 2011 Grant - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011

Congratulations to Vicken Y. Totten, MD and her colleagues for being awarded a section grant to help fund a study looking at characteristics that help to make emergency physicians resilient. We await the results of this important study with great interest. 

Sections Showcase 

As you plan your time for the upcoming Scientific Assembly, consider joining us at the sections showcase on Sunday, October 16 from 11:15 am to 12:15 pm in the Moscone Center Exhibit Hall. This session is designed to give members the opportunity to talk with section representatives and learn more about the important contributions that sections make to the college.  If you see a section that you are interested in and join during the showcase, you will receive a complimentary lunch at the event. Everyone who joins a section during Scientific Assembly will also be entered into a drawing for one free registration and two round trip tickets to Scientific Assembly 2012 in Denver. So come and stop by, say hello, bring some friends and perhaps join a new section this year. One lucky person will receive a free ticket to the 2012 Wellness Booth.  

Task Force on Emergency Physicians in Pre-Retirement Years 

Congratulations to the task force for the publication of its survey results in the Journal of Emergency Medicine. The article, Issues of concern to emergency physicians in pre-retirement years: a survey, authored by Goldberg R, Thomas H and Penner L, is a worthwhile article that examines issues that we will all face as we age and come to the end of our careers. 

We would also like to thank the task force for their work to update the content of the wellness section web site and for their continued work on an updated Primer for Emergency Physicians in Pre-Retirement Years.

Time for Intermission.... - Wellness Section Newsletter, September 2011

Sarah McCullough, MD, FACEP 

Vacation....What is it? Merriam Webster defines it as 1) a respite or time of respite from something, intermission; 2)a scheduled period during which activity is suspended; 3) a period of time spent away from home or business in travel or reservation. 

Everybody’s idea of a vacation might vary, but in general it is a change from a current routine or activity. I like the idea of an “intermission.” Some people might think that taking a “vacation” is too stressful because of expenses and time away. However, vacations have been reported to relieve stress and provide other benefits. On, Remy Lo cited 2 studies which concluded that vacations reduce the chance of dying. In one, females who vacationed twice a year reduced the risk of serious heart problems by half. Another found that men in their middle ages were more likely to die in a 9 year span if they did not vacation. I cannot comment on the construct of these studies, but it sounds like they make a good case for more “intermissions.” Stress has been linked as a possible cause to a number of physical and mental conditions such as cancer and heart disease. If vacation reduces stress it is possible that you will spend less money on medical expenses as well as time associated with these stress triggered health ailments. 

Elizabeth Scott, MS, wrote about the Importance of Vacations for Stress Relief, Productivity and Health on under Stress Management. A poll of readers on the site revealed that half did not take an annual vacation and many never took vacation. It also pointed out that when we do take vacation we often bring work along with us, so we stay in the work mindset we are trying to escape. What kind of “intermission” is that? 

Here are seven benefits of vacation noted by E. Scott. Vacation promotes creativity by helping us reconnect with ourselves and allowing self discovery. I think that the type of work done by physicians can stifle the creative mind and it is good to have time to rediscover this. 

Vacations stave off burnout so perhaps offering more vacation time should be considered when trying to increase the number of years physicians continue to work.

Taking time to relax can make you more creative and more productive than overworked, under rested counterparts.

Vacations can keep us healthy by allowing us to take time to “recharge” our batteries, thereby keeping stress levels low.

Vacations promote overall wellbeing. One study found that three days after vacation, subjects’ physical complaints, quality of sleep, and mood had improved as compared to before vacation. Most emergency medicine physicians do shift work so a three day “intermission” may be quite helpful for our sleep hygiene. This same study noted that the benefits were still present five weeks later, however, I am not sure if this would hold true for shift workers.

Vacations can strengthen bonds by allowing us to spend time enjoying life with loved ones. Enjoying good times together may help you through the stress of the hard times.

Vacations can help your job performance. More frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life and increased quality of work on the job

Finally, vacations relieve stress in lasting ways. A good vacation can lead to the experience of fewer stressful days at least five weeks later so vacations are the gift to yourself that keeps on giving. 

However you wish to define your vacations it would seem that there are plenty of benefits. So remember, schedule plenty of “intermissions.” 

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