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What is the nurse scheduling problem - nsp

Posted on 7/11/2018 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
For every organization, the ability to be able to adequately staff workers is crucial to satisfying the needs of customers. However, many different organizations face difficulties when it comes to effective staff scheduling. In the past few years, scheduling problems have received a lot of public attention because of the exploitation of workers. The healthcare field is no exception. 

What Is the NSP?

In the United States, many hospitals are understaffed, resulting in full-time nurses working extensive overtime hours each week. The nursing scheduling problem, also commonly referred to as NSP or NRP for nurse roster problem, is an operational issue that seeks to solve that issue. In fact, the nurse scheduling problem has been an area of interest for experts since 1969.

The solution to the NSP involves finding an optimal way to assign shifts and off days for nurses. Every nurse or physician has they're own desired days off and restriction. Therefore, the problem is finding a schedule that works within these constraints of the nurses while fulfilling the needs of the hospital which is just as important.

In addition, the nurse scheduling problem must be arranged in such a way to minimize hospital costs. Like any other organization, hospitals have budgets that they must work within. When assigning shifts to health care providers they have to keep this in mind.

Understanding Constraints When Scheduling Nurses

As previously mentioned, what makes the NSP a challenge is developing an optimal schedule that meets a set of constraints. There are two types of constraints which are hard constraints and soft constraints. Hard constraints are crucial to the NSP because it fails then the entire schedule is invalid. On the other hand, meeting soft constraints are a bonus yet if they can’t be accommodated it doesn’t throw off shift scheduling efforts.

Typically, hard constraints involve emergency medicine scheduling specifications. Here are some examples:

- A nurse can’t exceed more than one entire shift in a day, with shifts being the day shift, night shift and late shift.
- Each healthcare provider has to have a specified number of evening shifts.

Soft constraints could include the maximum number of shifts assigned within a given week to a nurse.

- A nurse should work the late shift one day and the day shift the next day.
- All patients should have adequate patient coverage.

Take into consideration nurse burnout. Just like doctors can get physician burnout, so too can nurses.

Why Use Scheduling Software to Tackle the Nurse Scheduling Problem?

When it comes to physician scheduling or creating an effective schedule for healthcare providers that follow hospital policies and governmental rules, scheduling software can be beneficial. Yes, scheduling software will help streamline organizational operations and allows hospitals and doctor offices to focus on what’s really important-providing great medical care to the patient.

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