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Five tips to optimize your ER physician schedule

Posted on 5/29/2019 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
The ER physician schedule is driven by various factors. Your hospital could have single, double or overlapping doctor coverage or more. And, hospitals aren't just different, but each doctor will have their own schedule preferences. Having to balance the ER staffing model with physician preferences without advanced preparation could turn out to be a huge shift scheduling nightmare.

Here are five tips to help you optimize the scheduling process in your ER department.

1. Request Scheduling Preferences

Just like everyone else, many ER doctors appreciate being able to balance out work and life, Because of this, it's important to learn and incorporate their schedule preferences into their schedules. It's also essential for doctor productivity and retention. While you can't obviously accommodate all physician preferences at all times, it's still beneficial you accommodate certain preferences so doctors won't experience burn out.

2. Confirm Schedules

No schedule administrator or manager wants that 6 AM call stating a doctor didn't show up for their shift. That leaves them having to scramble around trying to find someone to cover the shift. And, if you’ve received an unexpected trauma involving multiple patients, the situation becomes even more dire. To remedy, send each physician a copy of their schedules beforehand and have them confirm their shifts. While this won't completely eliminate no-shows, it will slow them down considerably.

3. Use Physician Scheduling Software

Using scheduling software automates the process and saves you hours of administrative time. Emergency medicine scheduling software will allow you to create on-call schedules up to a year in advance. You also have access to this software anywhere where you have internet. Plus you can set the software up to send your staff text and email notifications about any schedule changes in real-time.

4. Prepare for Vacations, Holidays and Spring Break

Spring break, holidays and summer vacations don't have to be a total disaster. Ask doctors to volunteer to work a certain number of the major holidays and to submit their dates for summer vacations and spring break as early as January. By doing this, you'll allow yourself plenty of time to see if you'll have any coverage issues. Plus, doctors may be more accommodating to change their plans if they know about it in advance.

5. Schedule Shifts Smartly

Don't schedule more than 32 hours a week or four shifts per provider. Distribute the same types of shifts fairly among all doctors. Limit consecutive night shifts to no more than three shifts in a row. Avoid short (less than 12 hours) turnaround times between shifts and consider shorter (eight to 10 hours) shift rotations for a higher volume facility.

An ER can often be a busy place. It’s faced with unpredictable incidents, ebbs and flows in patient volume, and life and death situations. Implementing the above five tips to optimize your ER schedule can add some sort of stability to the dynamic innate nature of an emergency room department.

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