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WHERE TO START AS A NEW PHYSICIAN SCHEDULER

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Get Ready to Take on Your New Role

As a physician, you have likely experienced firsthand the frustration that comes with a bad schedule. You know firsthand what it feels like to be on the losing end of an unfair or unbalanced schedule, to be overworked due to inefficient scheduling methods. You have seen colleagues leave a practice due to burnout, easily the most expensive byproduct of poor scheduling practices.

It is time to change that.

Perhaps that is why you stepped up to take on the challenge of scheduling.

You aim to create a schedule:

  • That is fair and balanced
  • That satisfies your fellow providers
  • That meets or exceeds the needs of your practice

Chances are, you have watched colleagues struggle to create a schedule that checks these boxes in a reasonable amount of time. Creating a provider schedule manually is an intense and inefficient process. This guide will show you how to create a fully-optimized, fully-staffed schedule in minutes with scheduling software from Shift Admin.

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Configure Settings

As the scheduler, you have the power to configure settings that will save you hours of time in the long run. During initial configuration, you will translate your solid understanding of your group’s needs into rules for generating the schedule.

Completing this initial setup makes creating the schedule for each period a smart and repeatable process that takes minutes or hours, not days.

If your practice is already using software to generate schedules, do not ignore this process. Review each of these steps to make sure you do not need to update the configuration settings.

Shifts

The first step is to create shifts that are unique to your group or specialty. There is no limit to the amount or type of shifts a group can have. You define the parameters for each shift. For example:

  • Type of shift, example: day, night, weekend, etc.  
  • Duration of each shift
  • Total number of providers needed for each shift
  • Days of the week a shift occurs
  • Pay rates and differentials at the shift level

Rules

Once the shifts are created, you can define the rules for how your schedule is populated. Within Shift Admin, there are over 100 default rules that can be configured within the system. Here are a few examples of common rules:

  • Minimum time between shifts/calls to prevent short turnarounds
  • Minimum and maximum consecutive working days
  • Minimum time off after nights
  • Rules to control distribution and equity of certain types of shifts or certain facilities
  • Configuring a circadian pattern
  • Equitable distribution of shifts, for example nights and weekends.

You can also apply patterns according to specialty. For example, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesia, Radiology, Urgent Care, and others require different types of rules and patterns. For these advanced needs, a team of software engineers is available to create custom rules and patterns to fit the unique needs of your group.

You may establish rules that conflict with each other from time to time. When creating the schedule, it is inevitable for rules to conflict. Not to worry, you can give the schedule generator guidance on which rules are most important by assigning a weight to each so that the generator can determine between which rules get broken and between which low or medium priority rules can be accomplished. Empowering the system to mimic human logic by using the weighting system allows you to produce a fully-staffed and fully-optimized schedule in minutes – every period. 

Provider Settings

You understand that accommodating providers with special requests can help the practice attract and retain top talent. As a scheduler, you can set rules at the individual level as well. Consider a provider who prefers a different number of consecutive working days or perhaps they prefer to work night shifts in consecutive or non-consecutive runs. In some cases, providers hold regular department meetings weekly or monthly. With Shift Admin, you can easily manage these preferences and find the most optimized schedule for all providers involved.

There are many moving parts when it comes to configuring rules, understanding the impact of each rule, and how new rules interact with existing ones. Once established, rules will apply to each schedule period going forward. Taking the time to process these rules using your unique knowledge of the group will save you hours of time when you go to create a new schedule.

 

Related Post: Customizing Your Shift Admin Account for Your Specialization

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Optimize Requests

Without a doubt, most tension around provider scheduling stems from time-off requests. The key to success is balancing the needs of the practice with the needs of individual providers. Schedulers can temper frustration by centrally managing requests and establishing specific protocols for requesting time off.

Establish Protocols

Before taking schedule requests through the system, it is a good idea to establish a protocol for how your practice will manage holidays and individual requests. For example, your practice may have a current policy for holiday rotations. It is a good idea to review this with colleagues regularly and to consistently execute and communicate the policy to each provider.

To learn more about common time-off protocols you can implement, read this blog post.

Rules for Requests

As the scheduler, you can implement rules for how providers submit time-off requests. Start by asking them to assign a priority to each day they are requesting off, from low to high. Then assign a limit to the number of requests that can be made for each level. This will enable the generator to deliver a finished schedule that closely aligns with each user’s preferences.

Central Management

When it is time to sit down and create a schedule, you can easily manage requests through the centralized master request calendar–no more sifting through emails to collect individual requests. With time-off rules written into the automatic schedule generator, the burden of maintaining fairness is no longer on your shoulders.

Generate and Refine 

Now that you have everything in place, you are ready to launch your first schedule. The hard work is behind you. It’s time to generate an initial schedule.  With accurate configuration, the auto-generator produces a provider schedule that is fully-staffed and fully-optimized takes minutes–not days, not hours.

Now you can return to what matters most – providing top-of-the-line patient care.

The schedule generation runs on Shift Admin servers which means that as soon as you click “generate,” you can log out of the program and return to your regular duties. Within minutes, an initial iteration of the schedule is complete. It’s time for a quick review.  

Alongside each iteration of the schedule, the generator outputs data that shows you stats for individual providers or shifts, and a list of rules violations that occurred during generation. This output allows you to adjust rules, weights, or requests for the period easily. From here, you run the generator again. Each time you make adjustments, the schedule becomes even more optimized and will require fewer changes over time. End users will not see the final schedule until it is published. 

Publish 

Once the schedule is published, providers have the option to sync schedules to their preferred calendar application, such as iCal or Outlook. Additional office staff can view the schedule in real-time via computer, tablet, or smartphone with Shift Admin’s 100% web-based platform.

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Conquer Scheduling

In today’s high tech world, manually creating a complex provider schedule is both unnecessary and highly unproductive. Shift Admin’s easy-to-use interface makes it simple to generate the best schedule for your group in the easiest manner possible, without taking too much time out of your day.

Our 100% customizable algorithm is second to none for physician schedulers who aim to provide a schedule that benefits the group, the practice, and ultimately the patients.

 

Ready to move forward?

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