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Seven ways to create a better ER physician schedule

Posted on 11/25/2020 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles

Shift scheduling for the ER department is a very complex system and continues to become more complex. Since you have more groups you're juggling, ER schedules are more complicated than other medical fields.

Emergency medicine is also a unique type of practice that has its own unique set of challenges. There's hour by hour, day in and day out, and sometimes you'll even have minute by minute changes in priorities and workload. It can turn out being your worst nightmare being in charge of the ER scheduling system.

Here are seven tips to help you create a better ER schedule.

1. Request Physician Scheduling Preferences

Just because they are physicians doesn't mean they shouldn't have the ability to balance out their life and work. You should take the time to obtain their schedule preferences ahead of time and incorporate it into the schedule as much as possible. It's important for physician retention and productivity.

2. Schedule More Doctors Than Needed

Always expect a higher patient volume in the ER and schedule accordingly so you stay efficient. You don't want to schedule just enough physicians that will fill each shift. You should instead schedule a minimum of two doctors per shift to ensure you'll be able to meet patient demand or incorporate and on-call shifts in your schedule.

3. Use Emergency Medicine Scheduling Software

Automate the physician scheduling process by using a schedule program. With scheduling software, you can:

• Follow circadian patterns for progressing forward in time
• Distribute weekends and nights evenly by contract, by tenure, etc.
• Optimize schedules based on doctor productivity and expected patient arrivals
• Schedule certain users apart or together as required

4. Schedule Shifts Wisely

Don't schedule over four shifts or over 32 hours a week per doctor. Make sure you distribute the same shift types fairly among all your physicians. Keep consecutive night shifts limited to no more than three consecutive shifts. Avoid short turnaround times (less than 12 hours) between shifts.

5. Schedule Breaks

Schedule periods for light exercise and breaks. This is essential and should be worked into your ER schedule since small breaks can help prevent mental exhaustion and fatigue.

6. Try Single Night Shift Rotations

Certain ER doctors have become advocates for single night shift systems where they work one solitary night shift connected to "regular scheduling." It's a viable option for larger groups - maybe not so much for smaller groups.

7. Prepare for Holidays, Vacations and Spring Break

Scheduling for these doesn't need to be a nightmare. You can ask physicians to volunteer to work a specific number of holidays and turn in their requests for spring break and summer vacations early in January. This will provide you with enough time to ensure you don't have any issues with coverage.

Implement these 7 tips as soon as possible to realize a better ER physician schedule before the busy winter months.

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