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Five common physician on-call scheduling mistakes

Posted on 11/16/2022 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
A physician on-call schedule is a form of a schedule that ensures that there is a physician available to respond to and carry out their work duties, be it day or night. Scheduling can become a nightmare and every hospital has difficulties with on-call scheduling. Due to this, things become complicated when physicians are required to be accessible at short notice.

Manually managing and preparing physician on-call scheduling can be complex and tedious, thereby leading to some mistakes. The mistakes made in a physician's on-call schedule can lead to time clashes, burnout, and patient dissatisfaction.

As a result, knowing the common mistakes made during physician on-call scheduling can help in fixing various scheduling errors and balancing the aspects of shift scheduling. This post highlights five of the most common physician on-call scheduling mistakes made in the healthcare industry.

5 Common Physician On-Call Scheduling Mistakes

On-call scheduling mistakes can occur in diverse ways. However, the following are some of the common mistakes to watch out for:

1) Unfair scheduling of holidays and Vacations.

The work-life balance of a physician is a tricky part of a doctor’s life. It can be a bit difficult to include holidays and family picnics because of their busy schedules. This leads some administrators to make the error of not trying to balance free time with work time by providing for holidays and vacations.

To prevent this, use physician scheduling software. Being automated, this software takes note of the unavailability of physicians even on short notice and ensures that there is always a free physician available. This can help free up more physicians’ time.

2) Repeatedly scheduling the same physician.

During on-call scheduling, especially emergency medicine scheduling, it is possible to schedule the same physician twice or multiple times. This can lead to conflicting times, burnout, and stress.

The best way to curb this mistake is to have a detailed shift scheduling matching the physician's assignments and qualifications. Also, avoid booking or creating schedules if the physician is not available. Adequate rotation helps physicians plan their life around their on-call lives.

3) Lack of access to schedules.

The inefficient method of posting physician on-call schedules on bulletin boards makes it harder to gain access and follow the schedule as it is tiring to keep going to the bulletin board to check which physician is on call and which physician is off duty in the case of emergencies.

Also, the schedule posted on the bulletin board could get missing, leading to a lot of physician wait time and having another schedule prepared.

4) Not making use of effective scheduling software.

There are so many ins and outs to be considered when creating a physician scheduling system, and using the manual method can lead to mistakes such as clashes in rotational patterns, shift types, reminders, etc. As a result, not using the right physician scheduling software leads to mistakes in the on-call schedule.

As a result, using doctor scheduling software helps avoid human errors such as schedule congestion. It also ensures physicians see changes made to their schedules in real-time, preventing loss of information or clashes.

5) Schedule congestion.

Letting appointments accumulate while being understaffed is a big mistake that occurs when manually scheduling and needs to be avoided at all costs. This mistake originates from a paper-based or spreadsheet scheduling system.

Having software that automates shift scheduling can help reduce the challenges of schedule congestion. Also, introducing digital patient records and monitoring appointments in emergency medicine scheduling can help relieve physician burnout and improve patient care.


The use of on-call scheduling software for physician scheduling makes it easier for both employers and physicians alike to keep track of and organize on-call schedules, which in turn impacts the general performance of physicians and the care of patients.

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