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ER doctor schedule - the challenges of the night shift

Posted on 4/12/2017 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles

Each month in the 24/7 hospitalist care environment, night shifts are often scheduled randomly. However, research has suggested that rotating shifts can result in circadian rhythm disruption. This de-synchrony can negatively affect the well-being and overall health of emergency doctors.

Challenges of the ER Doctor Schedule

ER doctors who frequently work night shifts have reported:

- Poor quality of sleep
- Fatigue
- Irritability
-Mood Decline
- Poor job satisfaction
- Depression
- Feeling burned out
- Health challenges
- Decision to retire early

A study that surveyed over 1,000 American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) experts was conducted on the opinions and thoughts of emergency doctors on night shifts regarding career satisfaction and quality-of-life factors. Many of the participants of the study (58 percent) said night shift had a negative influence on their job satisfaction.

Among those participants that retired from emergency medicine, 56 percent indicated that night shifts were a factor in their retirement decision. And 43 percent said that working night shifts caused them to consider retiring from emergency medicine early.

Obviously, there needs to be an emergency department to offer health care to patients on a 24/7 basis. But, whether they love it or hate it, ER doctors and nurses will have to undertake some undesirable shifts. They don't, however, have to take all of them. Emergency medicine scheduling can help with that.

Ways to Work Around the Challenge of Night Shift

Whenever possible, shift scheduling should be in a way that is consistent with circadian rhythm principles. Shifts that are overly long or long stretches of shifts scheduled to one physician consecutively should be avoided as much as possible.

No shift should be more than 12 hours long on physician scheduling. As the scheduling manager, you need to consider how many total hours each physician, nurse or staff member has worked as well as time intervals between each shift they took off. It's recommended that each staff member is regularly scheduled a 24 hour period off of work. Again, your ER physician scheduling software can make it easier to ensure this is factored into each and every doctor’s schedule.

When creating physician scheduling, you need to create it where your night shift workers are given anchor sleep periods. Shift scheduling should also take certain factors into consideration such as:

- Patient acuity levels
- Emergency department volume
- Individual doctor's age
- non-clinical responsibilities

ER doctor schedule software can help automate some of these tasks when creating the schedule.

Working more efficiently can add to an ER physician's sense of well-being and job satisfaction. When your emergency department is organized and efficient, it's just a better environment for staff to work in. Both staff and patients are happy and there is better flow in the workplace. When ER doctors enjoy their work, are satisfied, and have appropriate time off - particularly when they work the night shift - they tend to be more efficient.

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