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Grueling work hours have long been a part of medical training. But growing conversations about resident burnout and well-being, in addition to the impact of unsustainable working hours on patient care, eventually led to a serious revaluation of resident working hours. In 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) limited working hours for residents to 80 hours per week and no more than 24 consecutive hours.1
So, how can academic healthcare organizations meet the ACGME’s regulations and reduce burnout while providing exceptional practice experiences? Addressing the hours providers work in a given week is a great place to start. Scheduling can play a huge role in promoting resident satisfaction and well-being, which support high-quality patient care.
Five Ways Better Scheduling Can Improve Resident Satisfaction
- Ensuring Shift Equity and Sustainable Work Hours
- Increasing Schedule Transparency and Visibility
- Simplifying Shift Swapping and Time-Off Requests
- Sharing the Schedule in a Timely Fashion
- Helping Administrators Better Support Clinical Staff
1. Ensuring Shift Equity and Sustainable Work Hours
Set scheduling rules that limit weekly work hours and ensure fair shift distribution.
In academic medicine, meeting the 80-hour work week guidelines is even more difficult than it seems. A multitude of scheduling factors—including physicians’ teaching requirements, research duties, and clinical responsibilities—must be considered. As a result, it can be difficult to manually prioritize work limits and shift equity with other scheduling rules.
An advanced scheduling solution can easily accommodate for complex scheduling variables once rules are set to limit work hours and balance providers’ varying responsibilities. What’s more, the system should also have the ability to factor in things like providers’ preferences and ensure that certain shifts, like weekends, nights, and call, are distributed as evenly among providers as possible.
It’s a tall order, right? But essential. The right provider scheduling solution will simplify the schedule complexity required to improve outcomes for academic healthcare organizations. We dive deeper into the capabilities that different types of organizations should expect in our new guide, Choosing an Enterprise Scheduling Solution.
2. Increasing Schedule Transparency and Visibility
Increase schedule visibility and transparency by centralizing real-time schedules in a single location.
Creating schedules is one thing, but making sure providers can access the latest schedule is another issue altogether. Locating an up-to-date schedule can be a huge source of frustration for providers and it can also have a big impact on patient care. An advanced digital scheduling solution makes the latest schedules from across your organization accessible to providers at any time from any device at any location.
The ability to easily view the schedule across devices not only cuts down on frustration by making it simpler to view the schedule, find and contact the on-call provider, and communicate with colleagues, but it also increases transparency into how schedules are created. For example, if a resident goes on their mobile app to request Friday off and sees that two other team members have already requested that day off, it may be less surprising if the request is denied.
The reporting capabilities available in the scheduling platform should also promote transparency by allowing schedulers to share reports around shift equity, time off requests approval, and more.
3. Simplifying Shift Swapping and Time-Off Requests
Make the processes easy for swapping shifts and requesting time off.
The lack of a simple, standardized process for shift swapping and time-off requests can make it unnecessarily challenging to find the right person to take over a shift when needed. It can also lead residents to swap shifts without letting the proper administrators know, resulting in outdated, inaccurate schedules that delay communication and patient care.
Centralizing shift swapping, time-off requests, and other scheduling requests on a single digital scheduling platform puts the schedule back in provider hands, giving them more autonomy and control over how and when they are scheduled without leaving administrators in the dark.
4. Sharing the Schedule in a Timely Fashion
Quickly auto-generate gap-free schedules so residents can access next month’s schedule today.
Creating schedules can be incredibly time consuming, especially in academic settings. Schedulers often try to balance teaching, research, and patient care with organizational, departmental, and individual provider needs. Resulting time constraints mean that providers often receive their schedules at the last minute, making work-life balance nearly impossible.
An advanced scheduling solution can simplify schedule creation with rules built to meet each team’s unique needs. Different departments within an organization can then auto-generate gap-free schedules built to their specifications, which helps administrators complete and distribute schedules more quickly. Complete schedules are instantly available for care team members and administrators across the organization to access any time.
5. Helping Administrators Better Support Clinical Staff
Free up administrators’ time so they can better support the needs of clinical staff.
Administrators spend roughly 291 hours annually managing provider schedules. For academic facilities with more complex schedules, the number is likely far more. That’s valuable time administrators could spend to better supporting clinical staff.
Jessica Angerman, the Program Coordinator for the Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center Combined Residency Program, says Optimized Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt has created a better culture for residents and administrators alike.
“Our leadership team of program directors and associate program directors really like to foster a good culture between the admin team and leadership and the residents. Lightning Bolt has definitely helped us reach the residents in a more personal way. A lot of the times our administrative team doesn’t get to meet with them one-on-one because they’re so busy. It’s really given us that opportunity to understand where they are day-to-day and what their work includes, and they understand more of what our work includes.”
– Jessica Angerman, Program Coordinator, Combined Residency Program, Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center
Watch the full interview with Jessica to learn more.
Increase Resident and Care Team Satisfaction With Better Scheduling
To learn more about how we can support better scheduling at your organization, click below to contact a scheduling specialist.
1. Duty Hours and Patient Safety, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Patient Safety Network, Sept. 7, 2019: psnet.ahrq.gov/primer/duty-hours-and-patient-safety