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Is there a typical Emergency Doctor Schedule

Posted on 4/8/2015 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
The only thing typical about emergency medicine scheduling is how unpredictable it is. There are so many variables involved, no two schedules are the same for one doctor from month to month.

Variables for Emergency Room Scheduling

Personal factors for each physician must be taken into account, as well as the current needs of the ER. The number of hours in a shift can vary, the times of the shifts, and the days of the week.

Here is a partial list of what impacts shift scheduling for the ER:

  • How many patients are being seen: Social or environmental situations can increase the number of patients.
  • Skills called for: Are there more head injuries or gunshot wounds? Is there a cold or flu epidemic? Children’s diseases? Holiday and vacation interruptions.
  • Flu and cold season: Doctors get ill too. This has a major impact on the number of doctors available to see an increased number of patients.
  • Work/life balance: Does the doctor have personal needs that mean fewer hours? Is there a home emergency?
  • Education: ER doctors especially need to keep their skills up to date. That means attending workshops and seminars. This reduces their availability in the ER.

The Untypical Schedule

It’s not uncommon for an ER doctor to deal with physician scheduling that has him working 6 hours one day, 8 the next, then a string of 10 to 12 hour days. He might be on for 6 to 8 shifts one month and the next be expected to work 16 shifts.

At times he might have clumping of shifts, meaning he’ll be working 10 to 12 in a single two-week period. Almost all ER physicians work at least one weekend a month. And the time of work can vary from morning to evening to night.

The Effects

This highly variable emergency doctor schedule can take a toll on a physician’s home life. Finding the right way to balance their work life and personal time is a major challenge.

It is essential for their sanity that personal needs be factored into any schedule. These include:
  • Time for big events in the family like children’s team games and school activities
  • Vacations
  • Sick time, enough to recover satisfactorily
  • Schedules that allow them adequate sleep time
  • The person in charge of creating the schedule is also affected. Putting together schedules for the ER can become a full time job if done manually.
That’s why scheduling software is such an essential tool. It allows the shift manager to key in the personal needs for each doctor individually, the requirements for staffing and skills currently needed in the ER, plus the guidelines mandated by the hospital for staffing minimums, patient loads and other criteria.

The actual work of making the schedule can be done in minutes with this data programmed in. And new schedules can be pumped out quickly when conditions change.

Using automated scheduling software can help an ER stay properly staffed so that the needs of the patients are met and the doctors don’t burn out.

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