The unfortunate truth is that residencies are notorious for consisting of long shifts that leave the participants feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. This means that you, as the physician scheduler, are tasked with aligning residents’ shift preferences with the needs and preferences of your team at large. Knowing how to do this, how to effectively curb the presumption of an overwhelming workload, and having the right tools to do these tasks can make all the difference in the world.
Here are a few guidelines to consider when determining your residents’ workload.
Review Any Residency Program Requirements
The first step toward effectively scheduling residents is to understand the hours and rotations each resident should work in order to align your scheduling procedures with what’s required by the residency program. Then, with that information, consider your residents’ preferences concerning days off, weekends, and on-call nights. The result is a decrease in exhaustion and burnout, both of which affect the condition of your residents and their treatment of their patients.
Consider Responsibilities and Workload
Are a resident’s responsibilities during their shift overwhelming them? While education and experience are the heart and soul of a residency, they should also be able to maintain a high level of performance, which is difficult in the face of fatigue. Medical errors, malpractice, and lawsuits are just a few of the consequences that come from burnout, so it’s important to split tasks and cut down on consecutive shift hours to not overload your residents.
Prioritize Honoring Time-Off Requests
When it comes to workload distribution for residents, fairness is non-negotiable. Your resident scheduling process should include tools that allow you to consider time-off requests, weigh them against your preset scheduling rules, and make smart decisions to efficiently organize and generate a fully-optimized schedule.
Consider this: Residents should not work more than three consecutive weekly night shifts or work more than six nights in a row. And if they are switched to a night shift, they should not work a regularly scheduled morning shift the very next day. Additionally, residents must receive at least 10 hours of time off between two shifts and should never work a 24-hour shift or put in more than an average of 80 hours per week over a four-week period. In addition to these rules, residents need to receive their preferred vacations and at least one day off per week. And to minimize resident fatigue, consider reducing the number of working hours per week, and increase residency program enrollment.
Strive for a Transparent, Fair, and Balanced Resident Scheduling Process
Maintaining balance, responsibility, and shift requirements in your resident scheduling process will allow your residents to get the most out of their time in the hospital and maintain their passion for working with and serving patients.
Let Shift Admin Help
As a world-class, award-winning scheduling software, Shift Admin aims to relieve the pressures of resident scheduling by using advanced scheduling algorithms to create fully-optimized shift combinations from which your entire team will benefit. Click below to see how we simplify the scheduling process with efficient resident schedules that are created with smart, weighted rules.