Amy's blog about training

Creating a Fair Call Schedule Begins with a Policy

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 @ 10:03 AM

When On Call policies are under review, here are some issues to consider

Belonging to a group medical practice has many advantages such as one physician not having to manage and regulate the office, the schedule, and the employees.  Instead, everyone helps out and shares responsibilities, including on-call duties. The practice can set up a schedule so that providers have the ability to take personal vacation or CME days and also have more flexible time for family or business affairs.

However, differing expectations can mar the working experience. How can you avoid conflicts ?

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Topics: call schedule improvement, call schedule management, call scheduling tips

What Does a Good On Call Physician Schedule Look Like?

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Wed, Jun 27, 2018 @ 09:17 AM

The typical answers I hear to this question are "It follows all our rules”, or “All the Doctors are happy”, and the ever-popular “It’s fair”.

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Topics: call schedule improvement, call scheduling tips

How to Handle Physician On Call Scheduling Software Fairly

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Mon, Sep 08, 2014 @ 04:16 PM

I recently read an article in Harvard Business review about “How to Manage Scheduling Software Fairly”. I was surprised by how many scheduling software implementation problems Starbucks workers and On-Call physicians have in common.

Man vs “the machine”.  Starbucks uses automated software to schedule its 130,000 baristas, which tends to give them last-minute schedule notice and, too frequently, schedules night-closing back-2-back with morning-opening in order to “optimize” its workforce. By taking into account “more data than any human could process”, Starbuck’s software is able to schedule shifts in 15 minute increments to maximize staff/patron coverage.  While great for profits, this tight “on demand” solution creates havoc with baristas’ at-home schedules and relationships. Talk about stress and unhappiness!

Like Starbucks, Clinics have to balance the needs of their patients (patrons) with the needs of the business and physicians (staff). Clinics also turn to automated scheduling to solve the problem instead of manually plotting each provider into shifts on paper or excel. This frees expensive physician-scheduler time and can help balance the on-call schedule needs of the Emergency Department and physician at home. But is “magical” once-click scheduling a reality? Is it really possible to have just-in-time scheduling of staff?

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Do you trust your On Call scheduler? *

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 @ 02:40 PM

Whether you know it or not, you are in a partnership with your on-call scheduler... or should be. 

Can you say these about your Physician On-Call scheduler? If yes, please submit him for the Call Scheduler of the Year Award!

  • "Well the tallies are nice to have, but not necessary. Our providers trust the scheduler is right; they know the tallies are fair"
  • "We seldom have any weekend swaps, and if something gets scheduled a little tighter than usual, we know our scheduler will make it all right over time."
  • "We truly are happy with the current schedule. We just want to automate it a bit to save Dr. D some of his scheduling time and get the results into the physician’s Smartphones".
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Topics: call schedule improvement, call scheduler of the year

Insanity Defined: the On Call Schedule

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 @ 05:05 PM

 "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

What are three things all successful schedulers and physicians seem to have in common?

  • Strong personalities
  • Great political / inter-personal instincts
  • A thick skin
Successful Schedulers and Physicians want to do the right thing, in the best way possible. They have strong ideas about how to get things done, and will stand up for them.

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Topics: call schedule improvement, scheduling rule creation

Generating the Perfect Physician On Call Schedule

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 @ 04:22 PM

Perfection, the ultimate desire! Is the pursuit worth it?

Is an on-call schedule “good" only when each individual Provider is satisfied (no unhappiness)?

Automated physician scheduling software can do many things such as save you time, help you generate consistent results, and provide transparency of process. But software has never solved in-house political problems or replaced the leadership of a seasoned on-call scheduler making an educated judgment call.

Some schedulers get so excited about the possibilities envisioned with their new scheduling software, they forget it remains a tool; it is not artificial intelligence. Usually three things begin to happen . . .

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Topics: call schedule improvement, on call scheduling tips, call scheduling software tips

On Call Schedules: Templates, Patterns, Rules… Oh My!

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 @ 08:50 AM

Ever feel like you are the On Call scheduling Wizard of Oz for your physicians? Here comes Dorothy, the Scare Crow, Tin Man, and the Friendly Lion, each with their wish list for you to fill .

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Topics: call schedule improvement, call scheduling tips

Paper On-Call Schedulers? How Quaint.

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 @ 10:57 AM

Paper on call calendars bleed away your most valuable resource - time!

Are you trapped in status quo by myths regarding using Paper on-call schedules?
Does maintaining the status quo seem easier than adopting change because of the perceived infinite flexibility of a paper system?

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Topics: call schedule improvement, automated doctor scheduling software

Holiday On Call Scheduling: Get It “Fair” by Starting Now

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Sun, Jan 27, 2013 @ 07:13 PM

On Call Scheduling software that includes Provider Requests, Holiday History and Holiday Reports can allow you to forecast your Holiday schedule and make everyone happier.

Some of the “hottest” discussions about On Call take place regarding Holiday coverage. It’s not too early to start solving the problem, long before this year’s holidays arrive! Doing so allows for maximum planning within your Group and takes the stress of major summer/winter holidays off the table so families can plan their time together. What goes into the mix?
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Topics: call schedule improvement, on call schedule fairness, holiday scheduling

Do you need a Master On Call Scheduler?

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Mon, Dec 24, 2012 @ 11:36 AM

The frequency of On Call duties is one of the first things Providers consider when evaluating whether or not to join your Group, and whether they stay.

What can you do to ensure your On Call Schedule is on the plus-side of the "package?"

It's no secret that the on call schedule has a huge impact on the quality of Physician family and office life. Because time is scarce and there are so many demands on their time, the on call schedule can “make or break” their personal satisfaction and happiness. Have you considered assigning a Master Scheduler for this important task?

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Topics: call schedule improvement, on call schedule fairness, on call scheduling implementation