When NurseGrid was just a concept 3 years ago, we spent a significant amount of time trying to convince others that there was a deep void in the nursing market. After all, we were nurses ourselves and had felt this void first hand. We would tell them that nurses didn’t have an easy way to manage their schedule, and other apps out there didn’t address a nurse’s unique needs. Furthermore, nurse managers also lacked tools designed for their specific needs, often relying on Excel, emails, and Word documents to carry the weight.
We’d often hear, “That’s a great idea. You should make it available for flight attendants and restaurant workers too since they work shifts as well!” This completely missed the point, in our opinion. Sure, our total addressable market would be larger. Nurses, CNAs, and other nursing professionals account for about 5 million individuals, which is just a fraction of the overall shift workers in the nation. Yet the “shift” was about the only overlapping element of these industries. In fact, Physicians work shifts too, in a hospital, alongside nurses, and yet their scheduling needs are totally different from nurses too!
We knew that the success of NurseGrid was going to be in the nuances, the Nursing Nuances. Nurses have many subtle specifics that we designed NurseGrid around.
I’ll list a few, along with our thinking at the time—a time before we even had a product or a single user.
- Full Day Takeover: When a nurse works a 12 hour shift, that is their day. Leaving for work at 06:30 and getting home at 20:00 doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for other activities, so we decided to color in the entire day with the shift. This also helped nurses be able to see and comprehend their full schedule at a glance. The random spattering that many nurses call their schedule can be difficult to remember, and pulling out a paper calendar or flipping through a month’s worth of shifts on iCal just didn’t cut it.
- Military Time: Many people thought that standard time would be the best, most all-encompassing route, yet most nurses run on military time. If this app was going to be for them, there was no other choice.
- Night Shift on One Day: This decision was made early on. When you enter a night shift into iCal, the little dot shows up in two days. So from the month view screen it’s impossible to know which days you actually work, not to mention if that dot is representing a 30 minute appointment or a 12 hour shift. NurseGrid only fills in the day that the shift begins on, because night-shift nurses don’t consider themselves to be working both days even though it technically spans both days. They mostly consider that second day for sleeping!
- Colleagues Working With You: Monday-Friday folks work with the same people everyday (yes, there are many nurses who work M-F but it is the minority). For nurses who work every other weekend and only 3 shifts a week, the people you work with can change every shift! Knowing who you work with on a given shift is darn near impossible, without logging into some intranet system at work or looking at a whiteboard. This is part of the reason why NurseGrid is so much more powerful when more people are on it, because you can quickly check who you work with on any scheduled shift.
- Shift Types: When we first launched NurseGrid a little over 2 years ago, we only had 1 shift type (Regular Shift). Over time, we’ve added a lot more events to that list, all specifically with nurses in mind. Now you can easily see if it is a 3 payday month, if you’re On Call later in the month, or where that much needed vacation falls.
- Sharing Your Schedule: My wife and I are both nurses and trying to communicate our schedule to each other was a nightmare. We had shared calendars on our phones that sufficed, but it was still difficult to see things at a glance. Now we can just tap on our profile with NurseGrid and view each other’s schedule as easily as we can view our own. And when my mom would ask me what my schedule was before I had NurseGrid, well…
So here we are, 3 years after pitching the idea to others and 2 years after launching our mobile app. The app has taken off in no small part because of these Nursing Nuances. Without them, this would just be another app that ‘sort of’ works for nurses. Nurses are doing some of this nation’s most important and hard work, and they deserve some technology that caters to their needs. It’s the whole premise behind NurseGrid, and we’ve applied the same strategy to our nurse manager tools. Whatever we do, the needs of nurses will always be on the forefront of our minds.