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Six pitfalls to avoid in shift scheduling in hospitals

Posted on 6/8/2022 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
Employees in healthcare organizations have a lot on their shoulders. From administrative to patient care and other tasks, they have a lot to carry out. The healthcare sector is a large industry with various physicians, and it needs shift scheduling to work effectively.

Shift scheduling in a lot of healthcare organizations is an ongoing challenge. Having to build the shift schedule, match the employees in a way that will meet the needs of the patient, manage employee availability, minimize cost, and maximize patient satisfaction sometimes takes an excessive amount of time and can nearly be an impossible task to handle routinely.

Due to these challenges and the need for speed to set up the shift schedule, many hospitals fall into shift scheduling pitfalls.

Here are some shift scheduling pitfalls to avoid:

1) Using the Old Method to Schedule Employees

The old method of shift scheduling includes the use of whiteboards, noticeboards, pen and paper, and the most common, excel and spreadsheets. This method can be time-consuming for the one preparing the schedule and can be unclear to the staff.

Also, this method brings about confusion due to delays in updates and mistakes in physician scheduling. Texting isn't always dependable, emails aren't always read, and printed timetables or schedules are sometimes overlooked or get lost in a shuffle.

2) Forgetting employee time-off and availability

It can be challenging to keep track of a dozen or more physicians' availability. If a pen and paper or spreadsheet method are used for this tracking, it can be easy to forget and misread when creating the schedule. It is also possible to forget when a physician has time off or place a physician in the wrong shift slot.

3) Last-Minute Scheduling

Leaving the shift scheduling to the last minute is not a good idea. The schedule should be made as soon as possible because this can put the hospital staff in a bind, having to choose between work and personal duties.

4) Employee Confusion

Confusion among physicians when it comes to emergency medicine scheduling can occur for a number of reasons, including the unpredictability of shifts and last-minute changes.

If the schedule plan has no consistency and the staff is able to swap, take time-off, and change whenever they want, with no tracking system present, it can cause confusion in the hospital.

5) Lack of schedule updating

When the management fails to update their shift schedule, it'll lead to confusion, and physician burnout and cause issues to arise.

6) Lack of visibility

In shift-based businesses, your hospital's success depends on physicians showing up and providing proper patient care. If the shifts are left unattended, the patients could get frustrated as the physicians get stretched beyond their limit and are not providing adequate care. Clear communication and visibility are critical to emergency medicine scheduling because physicians need to know who they're working with and when.


Overall, putting together a shift schedule can be a challenge because there are many variables to consider and many pitfalls to avoid. What matters most is that you find a system that works for you. Shift scheduling software is widely accessible, so find one that suits your hospital's needs.

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