Handling time on and time off requests is often a challenging part of provider scheduling. As the scheduler, you need to look for ways to get the most out of your providers – while also giving them the rest they need, all while managing your many other duties.
Here are some tips to consider when implementing a time-on and time-off policy that works for everyone.
Communicate Policies From the Start
The importance of having an understandable, easy-to-access time-on and time-off policy cannot be overstated. Whether you include it in an employee handbook or cover it during the hiring process (while occasionally reviewing it throughout the year), it’s crucial that everyone is on the same page to prevent future misunderstandings. Scheduling policies and expectations should be communicated to each employee.
Outline Scheduling Options
Many hospital administrators find it effective to create a schedule that has built-in time off. This helps reduce the number of time-off requests and helps physicians better plan their vacation and personal time. A quality web-based scheduling solution gives schedulers the ability to customize patterns that fit their organization.
Being Equipped to Handle Variability
Physicians’ schedules can have plenty of variabilities. They often must accommodate teaching schedules, nights, evenings, and not all doctors can work all shifts. Some facilities do establish a scheduling structure, implementing the same rules for every on-call physician. In any case, having a scheduling program that can handle all of your facility’s – or organization’s – variabilities is crucial.
Another rule to follow for creating effective physician schedules is setting deadlines for requests. Define how much notice your team should give you for time-off requests. Be sure to leave room to adjust for special requests dealing with personal matters, family emergencies, etc.
Be Fair Regarding Requests
It’s not always easy deciding who gets time off when – and what to do when multiple providers request the same time-off dates. First, make sure the provider has clearly stated their reason for taking that time off and then decide if there are rules concerning your time-on and time-off policies, such as first-come, first-served or seniority. Moreover, requiring providers to prioritize their time-off requests is helpful and will enable your scheduling software to align and weight those requests within the system, therefore creating the schedule according to preferences.
Handle Holidays In Advance
Holidays present unique challenges to any administrator. But there are several rules to follow that can make scheduling holidays easier, including limiting the number of people who can be off on a certain holiday, scheduling them on a first come, first-served basis, and scheduling holidays well in advance – sometimes up to a year or more.
Working with a scheduling software provider such as Shift Admin will ease the strain of handling time-off requests while creating a schedule that’s fair for everyone during their time at the facility.
Manage time on and time off with our sample time-off request protocol, ready for your facility to use: