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Take into account these factors when implementing rotating schedules for health care providers

Posted on 1/2/2019 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles

Working in the healthcare industry requires a lot of balance. It's fast-paced and involves round-the-clock responsibility. Caregivers run from one location to another to provide care to their patients, nurses seem to always be on-the-go and independent practice employees typically wear multiple hats each day.

Everyone has a circadian rhythm (internal body clock) that an unbalanced schedule can disrupt. Rotating schedules are one type of scheduling system that could become unbalanced and cause undue fatigue and stress on providers.

A fixed shift schedule involves all employees to work the same shift each day. However, this can be difficult in a hospital or medical setting since the needs of patients need to constantly be met. Rotating shifts are common in the healthcare setting and is where doctors will move through a cycle of working day, night and swing shifts (if needed).

There are various types of rotating shift scheduling systems. These include:

All-Shift Rotation

This type of rotation system requires all providers and nurses do a rotation on each different shift. An all-shift rotation system is particularly useful where a certain shift isn't popular. With the all-shift rotation, each provider will need to take their turn working every different shift. This makes the schedule fair and promotes a greater sense of team work.

12-Hour Shifts

Another popular choice in physician scheduling is the 12-hour shift. With this rotation shift, a 24-hour workday is divided into two even 12-hour shifts. Providers like this since it allows them to have more time off. However, the longer shifts can become tiring and could impact quality care.

Two-Shift Rotation

With the two-shift rotation system, a designated night staff is hired while the other two shifts are rotated. This works well for providers who don't like working nights. However, the designated team working nights may feel a sense of isolation and lack of management.

Eight-Hour Shifts

Three 8-hour shifts is another common rotation scheduling system. It divides a 24 hour workday into three equal shifts. Providers can work alternate days on two distinct shifts. Eight-hour shift rotation schedules encourage a higher productivity rate since it poses less risk of burnout.

Disadvantages of Rotating Shifts

Many people prefer fixed shifts over rotating shifts. It's typically harder for a person's body to adjust to rotating schedules. Shifts can become unbalanced leading to burnout and fatigue.

Also, safety and productivity are big concerns with a rotation scheduling system. Providers require rest to ensure high-quality patient care and safety. When they’re being overscheduled it can lead to decreased productivity and burnout.

Burnout can lead to things like:

- Poor job performance
- Emotional problems
- Absenteeism
- Negative attitudes
- Physical illness
- Increased turnover

It can also affect the quality of care patients receive.

Because of this, you have to balance the emergency medicine scheduling system out properly. Shift scheduling software can help with this. It takes the guesswork out of rotation shift planning. It can create a schedule based on providers' skill rate, pay rate and availability. It can help you monitor attendance and absences. It can generate a complex rotating shift in a fraction of the time it would take you to manually create one.

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