The Problems Surrounding Nurse Scheduling

Nurse scheduling issues impact nurses in hospitals around the country every day. Schedules don't have to be a source of frustration for nurses.
NurseGrid Blog

Organization can be a nightmare for any company. Nurse scheduling is no different.

As a non-clinical person with little exposure to the task of nurse scheduling in any size hospital, it is hard to understand the complexity associated with this work.  It’s fraught with complexity and moving parts “just” to place the right resource in the right place at the right time.  Information like certification (is it current), eligibility to work in specific units, overtime pay, union rules and state regulations require consideration. As if all that wasn’t tricky, time consuming and mind-boggling, it gets worse.

After hours creating a nurse schedule, meeting a budget, and trying to give other nurses the schedule they want, patients aren’t behaving as predicted.  There’s too many, there’s not enough, they all need more attention than was planned.
This creates an imbalance of supply and demand.   Having the right number, mix and skill of nurses to meet the dynamic patient population is difficult to predict and can make the time, effort and expense in to building the schedule an exercise in futility.

The net result to the hospital is now investing even more time and money in to matching the supply of nurses to the demand of patients.  The staffing office, charge nurse, or anyone who is tasked with calling a nurse to ask them to work overtime, additional shifts or not come to work at all is a dreaded task.

Nurses who are burnt out hate the first two calls and nurses who need the money hate the second.  And all of them hate the lack of control and overhead that sits on top of an already emotionally challenging career.  Add to that the personal aspect of a nurse who is burnt out, won’t answer the phone when the staffing office calls, just can’t face another day on their feet and just doesn’t want to work with Jenny, the RN who smells.

From a management and cost perspective, it’s expensive to make calls, it takes a lot of time and is often fruitless.  The person calling gets no answer, a “not today thank you” or a “sick nurse” who says that while they really want to work, it would be irresponsible to so.  It’s manual (even if the process is automated texting), fundamentally unproductive and demoralizing for all involved.

"If a nurse is qualified to save a life, they are qualified to control their schedule."

I had the privilege of working with clinicians at all levels through VP’s and CNO’s for six years trying to solve this problem using software and best practices.  Those were effective yet missed a critical component that NurseGrid has solved beautifully.

Empowering nurses to make their own choices about when they can swap, flex off and see who is working with them is a solution that has been needed for years.  The bonus of not being dependent on other IT systems in order to do this is icing on the cake.

If a nurse is qualified to save a life, they are qualified to control their schedule, calendar, and communicate with their colleagues.

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Zach Smith

Zach Smith