Shift planning is hardly as easy as it sounds. As the saying goes, humans are the most difficult to lead.' We are fundamentally talking about planning humans here. However, it is still possible to achieve more efficient shift planning in your hospital.
Often, shift planning tends to be a time-consuming process, mainly because of the complexities involved in sorting last-minute changes, coping with staff complaints and shift requests, and unpredictable scheduling.
There is an increase in demand for medical practitioner specialists to fill the ever-expanding available job roles in today's industry.
However, many practitioners' main concern is that working hours are often not family-friendly in most hospitals. So, they instead compete for job roles in more work schedule-friendly hospitals.
Thus, by creating a better structure for shift planning in your hospital, you will open doors for more interested qualified practitioners to work with you. It is undoubtedly beneficial to your hospital to have a wide range of specialized practitioners on your staff.
Most importantly, the quality of care your hospital will render to your patients directly correlates to how effective your shift planning strategy is.
Likely questions to ask yourself in this light is; are your nurses constantly overworked? Are your practitioners able to achieve a healthy work-life balance? Are you scheduling nurses with the right skill-set to care for your patients?
Answering the above questions will let you know how effective your shift planning strategy is. However, creating a nurse staffing tailored to answer the question above positively is not an easy task.
If you want to optimize your hospital shift planning, you can follow the following tips;
First, you need to make sure to put your staff into consideration while making scheduling decisions. The best way to achieve this is to express their work preference. Creating schedules with their best interest at heart will make workflow easy and reduce the need to fill emergency shifts.
Create communication channels that are open between your managers and providers so that managers can ask about their preferred working hours before creating schedules for them.
The more information your managers have about your staff preferences, the easier it will be to create rosters, thereby serving your organization and employees better.
A great way to take the pressure off your managers is to encourage shift trading. Shift trading simplifies collaboration between healthcare staff and their managers.
Instead of taking hours/days to draft a shift plan. Having an employee who cannot work on a particular shift complaint and managers trying to call every staff member to find out who is available to take the shift slot- allows your team to simplify this process for you by enabling shift trades.
However, shift trading cannot work effectively without close supervision. It is needful that managers monitor the process and ensure that the right staff with the right skill-set covers the shift in question.
A simple way to effectively implement shift trading in your hospital is to use scheduling software that enables your staff to request shift trades and gives you the exclusive authority to approve or disapprove the request accordingly.
A verbal agreement between your staff members who wish to shift trade is hardly sufficient enough. It is best to run this agreement through your managers because they have a clearer view of the implications of every potential shift trade.
You need to schedule shifts as far in advance as possible. No matter how perfect your schedule template is, there is a high possibility that you will have to tweak it several times before implementing it. Being proactive with your shift planning is advantageous to the system's overall effectiveness.
In healthcare, you can be almost sure that you will need to change fixed schedules repeatedly.
If you do not start on time, all imperfections/edits won't be easy. In the end, you may come up with an ill-prepared shift plan that will cause even more problems for you down the line.
Having mandatory overtime is a significant issue in the healthcare industry, and it is a result of hospitals not having enough nurses to cover shifts.
When there are not enough staff, the available team will have to do more extended hours and a lot of overtime.
Too much overtime often leads to burnout, adversely affecting every profession.
Burnout mostly leads to increased medical errors and complications, reducing patient satisfaction.
Therefore avoiding mandatory overtime is very important in the healthcare schedule.
Shift planning in healthcare continues to be a constant problem. However, this situation is not helped by the massive understaffing in the industry. Nevertheless, it is not impossible to optimize staff schedules to avoid unnecessary overtime.
Take advantage of the technologies at your disposal today and make better scheduling decisions.
Using staff scheduling software enables you to detect trends and forecast the day and days of the week, which are the busiest or least busy times for your staff.