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Using circadian rhythm principles in ER physician scheduling

Posted on 3/16/2016 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
The healthcare industry never sleeps. Doctors, nurses, physician assistants, surgeons, and anyone else who works in the industry needs to be available around the clock in order to ensure patients are receiving the care that they need – when they need it.

This often means that those individuals who work in the healthcare industry – particularly in emergency room settings – suffer from a serious lack of sleep, which is not only detrimental to the individual, but also to the patients that individual is caring for.

If you are a scheduling manager for an emergency room staff, you may be wondering how you can help your staff avoid losing sleep and schedule them at times when they are the most alert. By using circadian rhythms in coordination with ER physician scheduling software, you ensure that your staff is well-rested, is working at times when they are the most alert, and improve the care that they provide to their patients.

What are Circadian Rhythms?

Circadian rhythms are the physical, mental and behavioral changes that an individual experience in a 24-hours period. Typically, the circadian rhythms respond to the light and darkness that an individual is exposed to. It is because of these rhythms that people are usually awake and alert during the day and sleep during the night. Essentially, circadian rhythms are an internal clock, so-to-speak.

How Working in Emergency Medicine Can Disrupt Circadian Rhythms

The circadian rhythm plays an important role in determining sleeping patterns. For those who work in environments where they have to work during times when their body would naturally want to sleep, circadian rhythms are disrupted. Disruption of circadian rhythms can impact quality of sleep, alertness, accuracy and even reaction time.

How Emergency Medicine Scheduling Software can Benefit Circadian Rhythms

Since circadian rhythm can be disrupted as a result of a constantly changing schedules, shift scheduling software can be a valuable tool for scheduling managers and the staff that they create schedules for.

Physician scheduling software makes it easier to schedule with circadian rhythms in mind. Since this software makes it easier to manage schedules, a rotation in shifts that keeps medical professionals’ internal clocks in mind is much easier to achieve. For example, the scheduling manager can rotate night shifts so that only one physician has to work overnight a week. The less the natural sleep/wake cycle is disrupted, the better.

When using ER physician scheduling software, scheduling managers should take personal preferences of their staff into consideration, as well as factor in circadian rhythms principles in order to create a schedule that is fair, that allows for proper sleep, and ensures physicians are as alert as possible when they are on the job.

If you are a scheduling manager for emergency medicine physicians and other staff members in your the emergency medicine department, shift scheduling software will allow you to cater to circadian rhythms, improve job satisfaction, and improve the care that patients receive.

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