Hospital Staff Scheduling

06 Sep, 2016 | Tags: , , ,

Every healthcare organization faces a challenge in managing staff scheduling and ensuring open shifts are filled. It is important to note though that costs are minimized when patients are matched with the staff in such a way that patients’ needs are met and the scheduling is done professionally.

Depending on a number of factors, staff scheduling gets complicated and thus end up wasting a lot of time and resources. However, every healthcare organization is different they all share a common need in scheduling their staff.

How to Avoid Three common Staffing and Scheduling Drawbacks

Most healthcare systems experience common drawbacks in their efforts to meet staffing and scheduling. However, this can be avoided by using a new methodology referred to as the “Collaborative Staffing”. The methodology is a ground-up that enables employees to be part of the solution in deploying the workforce. This approach minimizes the labor costs and ensures optimal patient coverage. Here is keener look at the three common drawbacks and how they should be avoided.

Carrying the Staffing Process from the Top down With Limited Employees Involvement

In a “manager-directed’ approach, creating staffing plans and filling staffing needs is the responsibility of unit managers and/ or a central staffing office. This top-down approach gives very little input or insight to nurses and other frontline staff into staffing process. This makes the nurses do very little to be part of a solution in case of gaps in staff coverage. In this regard, the challenge of staffing and scheduling rests on the manager’s shoulder.

However, managers’ time would be best spent focused in more tactical initiatives such as mentoring staff quality and patients safety. This is important than spending time in the routine tasks of managing staffing coverage. Moreover, staffs know about their preferences and availability than the managers. Thus, giving them control over shifts makes them enjoy better work/life balance and an increased sense of freedom.

The feeling of working in an empowering environment brings about many benefits. For instance, nurses tend to be more committed to the organization and register high quality of care in their units. Thus, collaborative staffing is a staff-partnered process that enables employees by granting them visibility into the organizational needs. It also gives them a right that empowers them to be part of the solution. In this regard, mangers and staff are able to collaborate to fill open shifts. This considers the employee skills and preferences to ensure that the patient care needs are put into account.

Staffing in Units to Match Staff with Patient Needs across the Enterprise

The opportunity to develop a dependable staffing strategy lacks when each unit is solely involved in their own staffing. This is because it may bring about lack of transparency thus making it difficult to available staff to fill gaps in another unit. In this regard, when a nurse is sent home for low census in one unit, another one is called in to meet increased needs.

Thus, even though the one going home is more qualified and is willing to fill the shift than go home, it is not possible. This is because there is no connection made due to the lack of visibility.

Lack of Standardized Staffing Policies in the Organization

There should be consistent policies regarding overtime, incentive programs and holiday schedules in the entire organization. This is because all employees like being treated equitably and fairly. Thus, inconsistent practices in staffing can bring about perceived or actual inequities.

However, in a collaborative model system, consistency and fairness are driven by the transparency. Moreover, standardized staffing policies create equality that can lead to a more unified workforce. This ensures that workers can work together to handle the challenges of staffing and scheduling.

Collaborative staffing ensures interdepartmental visibility and communication. Everyone in the healthcare is able to enjoy the benefits like system-wide staff optimization, increased employee engagement and decreased overtime and premium labor costs.

Better Scheduling Improves Management

Scheduling is major issue when it comes to running a big healthcare. Moreover, it influences the number of the practices run and serves as a foundation to a successful healthcare business. In this regard, scheduling of physicians and staff maximizes the efficiency of the healthcare and the patients’ care.

The best way to improve your scheduling is to get an automated physician and staff scheduling application. The machine should be able to work with unique policies and rules in the healthcare organization.


According to Dr. Karlene Kerfoot, a Chief Nursing Officer for API Healthcare, a GE company, technology has brought a great value that is growing each day. This is because technology helps healthcare staff in performing most activities daily. Moreover, technology can also be used to manage broader job satisfaction in hospitals like staffing and scheduling.


How to Avoid Three Common Staffing and Scheduling Pitfalls