For most people, establishing a strong morning routine can be a big undertaking. What time you wake up, how you spend your first few minutes of the day, and what you’re able to accomplish all before walking out the door are all factors that play into whether or not you have a successful day. For physicians, creating a sound morning routine can be especially important considering the demanding job that awaits at the office or hospital.

We talked to three respected and hard-working doctors from Brookwood Baptist Medical Center to find out what they do in their first few waking moments that help them set the tone for a successful day. We’re confident that no matter your occupation, you can glean some ideas from these doctors for how to improve your morning, too!

Dr. Brent Parnell, M.D., Obstetrics & Gynecology/General Gynecology, Urogynecology & Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery

Dr. Brent Parnell specializes in treating pelvic floor disorders, including pelvic organ prolapse, and bladder and bowel incontinence. He’s an Alabama native who graduated from Samford University and subsequently studied at the University of Alabama’s School of Medicine. He, his wife and four children live in Birmingham.

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Dr. Parnell dedicates 15 minutes of his morning to connecting with God and focusing on why he does what he does in order to start each day on the right foot.

What time do you wake up?

I set my alarm for 4:50 a.m. or 5:10 a.m. depending on the day, but usually I wake up before my alarm. I don’t use the snooze button. I’m typically pretty happy to get out of bed and get going.

What do the first few minutes of your day look like?

The first five minutes of the day I am in the shower, but my morning routine is pretty predictable. After I get dressed, I take our 15-year-old Golden Retriever Cassidy outside to go to the bathroom, then make a cup of coffee, which I either will drink black or with a touch of cream. I set it to brew at 4:50 a.m. so I have hot coffee ready when I walk in the kitchen.

I sit down on the couch every morning with my cup of coffee and read a devotional, then spend time reading the Bible. This time helps me focus on why I do what I do, which is serving God through serving people. This part of my morning is vital to getting off on the right foot.

Each day I have the opportunity to serve people in a way that is personal and unique. Remembering that each person who walks through our doors has value beyond being just a patient helps me maintain the perspective that what I do has value beyond the medical care we provide. So this 15 minutes of coffee and reflection on God’s word is the most important part of my morning.

What’s your best piece of advice to others looking to begin their day well?

Physicians are human beings and subject to bad days and the pressures of what we do. Starting the day with a routine that helps take the focus off of me and directs me back to my motivation of serving God and people through medicine, has been the best way to get my day started on the right foot.


Dr. Cameron Askew, M.D., general surgeon

Dr. Cameron Askew completed her surgical residency right here in Birmingham at Baptist Health System. While she loves all aspects of general surgery, she has a specific interest and compassion for helping those struggling with obesity through weight-loss surgery.

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Dr. Askew’s best morning advice is to find a routine that makes you feel good starting your day, whatever it may be.

What time do you wake up?

Most weekdays I get up at 5:30 a.m.

What do your first few minutes look like?

I go to the bathroom, brush my teeth and wash my face. I rarely shower in the morning.

How do you take your coffee?

I don’t drink coffee. I start on my water for the day first thing when I get up, and I aim to get through my 32-ounce hydro flask three times every day — so roughly 96 ounces of plain water.

Do you do anything the night before to set yourself up for a successful morning?

I try to pack my gym clothes in my gym bag the night before. I have always been someone who exercises regularly, but when your schedule gets busy, exercise tends to be something people de-prioritize, which I think is a mistake. If I have my gym bag packed and ready to go, then I’ll go straight from work the next day whatever time of day that may be.

What’s your best piece of advice to other physicians looking to begin their day well?

My morning routine is very fast and often rushed, but my two favorite things are washing my face so I feel refreshed and awake, and then my drive to work where I get about 15 minutes to think about my day. Find a routine that makes you feel good starting your day, whatever it may be.


Dr. Jamie Marie Routman, M.D., Obstetrics & Gynecology

Originally from Huntsville, Dr. Jamie Marie Routman studied bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle and then later earned her medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham. She has a special interest in breastfeeding, vulvar disease, vaginal surgery, and incontinence procedures. When she’s not working, you’ll find her long-distance running, visiting a local farmers’ market or spending time with family.

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Dr. Routman encourages everyone to wake up, kiss your significant other, snuggle your babies and tell yourself it’s going to be a good day!

What time do you wake up?

5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.

What does your first five minutes look like?

Lately, pumping or nursing my 6-month-old while logging into the work computer and seeing if I have anyone in labor, following up on lab work or imaging studies, calling nurses to check on my patients, and mentally planning out my day.

How do you take your coffee?

I’m not a coffee drinker. I’ll take a chai tea instead.

Do you do anything the night before to set yourself up for a successful morning?

I pack my lunch, my pump bag, and lay my outfit out for the next day. If I’m running the next morning, I make sure my running stuff is set out where I can easily throw it on and go.

What’s your favorite part of your morning routine?

Baby snuggles! And also running. Three times a week, I run with some girlfriends to combine my social and exercise time. By 6 a.m., I already feel like I’ve accomplished something, I’ve had my therapy for the day, and my brain is ready to solve some problems.

What’s your best piece of advice to others who would like to start their day off on the right foot?

Kiss your significant other, hug your kids, get your blood flowing with some exercise, and tell yourself on the way to work that it’s going to be a great day. Being a physician has its challenges — insurance battles, endless paperwork, long hours away from family — but I can’t think of a better job out there. It really is such a privilege to help people live their best lives and to participate in some of their most special moments.

Brookwood Baptist Medical Center is located at 2010 Brookwood Medical Center Drive, Birmingham, AL 35209. Learn more at (205) 877-1000.

This article is sponsored by Brookwood Baptist Medical Center.