White Coat Diary: Dara Kass, MD

White Coat Diary asks Doximity members to share how they spend their days or nights inside and outside of the hospital, clinic, or office.

Dara Kass, MD is an emergency medicine physician and founder of FemInEM, a blog that explores issues around the development and advancement of women in emergency medicine. Dr. Kass serves as an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Name: Dara Kass

Specialty: Emergency Medicine

Institution: NYU School of Medicine, CEO and Editor in Chief of FemInEM

Age: 40

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Morning

6am: Mostly asleep. Getting kicked in the head by my 5 year old who is in our bed so I can simultaneously monitor his fever and get some sleep. It’s amazing what EM docs can do with both eyes closed.

7am: Time to get up. Work in tandem with my au pair to get my 8 year old son and 10 year old daughter up and ready for school. My 5 year old, Sammy, is going to stay home. His fever has broken (nothing since the night before) but he can’t got to school. Flu season has been rough in Kindergarten, even rougher for him. He had a liver transplant at age 2 and this is the first season he has had a fever almost every month. This week his URI is pretty benign-low grade temps but there is something going on with his class. 1/4 of the kids are out with viruses, so Sammy will stay with me.

Negotiations with the other two kids are flying in every direction (“5 more minutes, please — I swear I’ll brush my teeth without being asked twice,” and “Okay, I will get dressed but I want ice cream for breakfast!”) The process is mostly smooth and there are no tears.

8am: Kid 1 and kid 2 head out of the house and I start plugging-in for the day. Between 4 email accounts, 2 twitter accounts, 4 moderated Facebook groups and 2 instagram accounts, just mentally downloading the overnight activity can take awhile. I try to practice inbox zero and use online platforms like NirvanaHQ to organize my to-do as it comes through my email.

9am: Time to move my car. Brooklyn has this thing, alternate side parking. My car has to be moved off the street from 9–10:30am, but I planned ahead. At NYU we are expanding our Virtual Urgent Care Telemedicine practice and expanding to the surrounding states. I need to go to Newark New Jersey to get fingerprinted to finishing getting my NJ state license. Sammy and I pack into the car and head off to Jersey.

10am: Make it to Jersey by 10:20 am, the appointment takes 10 minutes (seriously, it was the best experience) and we head back to Brooklyn. We listen to last week’s FemInEM podcast in the car, much to Sammy dismay. I try to listen to each of our podcasts to learn for the future. I never thought we would be recording a weekly podcast discussing issues around gender and medicine, but it is one of the most exciting things I have ever done.

11am: Finish driving and I take Sammy for pizza. He has ices for dessert. I remind him it’s 20 degrees out. He doesn’t care. Oh, to be 5 years old.

Afternoon

12pm: Back home, I hunker down for the day. I start working on a response to NBC news regarding gender bias and physician introductions. Over the previous week NBC Nightly news had referred to women physicians on air and chyron by their first name, no credentials, while referring to male physicians as “Dr. Blank” or “John Smith, MD.” We discuss this issue of implicit bias frequently at FemInEM, especially as it refers to physicians of color and wanted to take this opportunity to address with NBC.

My FB feed lights up with a Gomer Blog post “NBC Changes Policy, Allows Women to be Portrayed as Mothers or Doctors” which makes me smile. NBC corrects the online versions of the story due to the backlash while I am writing so I move on.

1pm: Emails, Facebook, Twitter and a couple of bathroom breaks. We are releasing the speaker slate for the FIX18, our FemInEM conference this week and need to finish notifying the speakers. We are also working with sponsors who are pre-purchasing tickets for their residents and faculty to attend the October event. This is the part of my day that is dizzying and overwhelming- it’s when FemInEM feels like more of a business than a hobby.

3pm: Start recording a Docs Outside the Box podcast with Dr. Nii Darko. I had been following Nii on social media for a while and was thrilled when he asked me to be on this podcast. Nii is a trauma surgeon working in Pennsylvania who started his podcast to “ bring stories of ordinary doctors doing extraordinary things to inspire other docs to think outside the box. [His] guests are living proof that doctors can break free from the exam room.” The thing that drew me to Nii’s podcast was the diversity of the physicians he was profiling. His guest are overwhelmingly physicians who are women or people of color, a rarity for the podcast world. He says that accidentally happened because he just started interviewing people in his inner circle. His podcast, to me, is why we need diversity of leadership. By highlighting those physicians he knew, as a black male doc, he is amplifying the voices of other physicians who are underrepresented.

4pm: Still talking to Nii. I had only budgeted an hour to record but, we spent an hour and a half recording the podcast and discussing the challenges facing physicians today. We talk a lot about leadership, bias and social media. It was a genuinely great conversation.

5pm: Podcast number 2 for the day. This time, I am recording a FemInEM podcast with Drs. Jenny Beck-Esmay and Dr. Natalie May. Jenny is the other editor in chief of FemInEM and the co-host of most of our FemInEM podcast. Nat is a retrieval doc and pediatric emergency specialist in Syndey Australia. The topic of today’s podcast is “Taking the Stage: A discussion of women speakers in Medicine. We start out discussing an article Natalie co-authored “Are there too few women presenting at emergency medicine conferences?” We disuss the landscape facing women physicians as national speakers and the creation of the FemInEM Speaker Bureau. After 45 minutes our job is done and we sign off until next time.

Evening

6pm: Dinner with my kids.

7pm: Last conference call for the day. This one is with a group of women doctors in different specialties preparing for a retreat organized by Dr. Julie Silver. We are headed down to Orlando Florida later this month to bang heads on the topics facing women across the house of medicine. This self-organized retreat has a the makings to be game changer for gender equity. Stay tuned for what we come up with!

8pm: Calls are done for the day and kids bedtime. The rest of the night is spent talking to my husband, scrolling on social media and watching the State of the Union. Then I unplug and turn off. Time for bed. Will continue to do something tomorrow.

Have a White Coat Diary you’d like to share? Submit yours here and your story could be featured on Doximity.

More from Op-Med