July 5, 2023

Which Medical Specialty Has the Most Complex Schedule?

Anesthesia or OB/GYN? Emergency department or hospitalists? Which specialty has the most difficult scheduling rules? The answer is not that simple.

While all medical specialties have complex schedules, a few stand out on top of the list. Luckily, scheduling software can simplify the process. This can make life easier for everyone, both scheduler, and provider.

What makes a complex schedule?

Specialty services are complex, resulting in difficult scheduling. In fact, many factors add to this difficulty. For example, there may be many sites to schedule at, each with its own staffing mix to take into account.

After all, many medical specialties have a complex staffing mix. There may be MDs, residents, NPs, RNs, LPNs and MAs all working. Don’t forget about secretarial and support staff either! With all the different roles, the schedule is even more delicate. This makes balancing the right mix of people in all the right places so important.

There’s also shift work. Schedulers have to consider which shift a provider works to avoid burnout. It’s important to avoid scheduling for the day before and the day after each shift worked.

Complex specialty scheduling rules need consideration too. For example, some sites may need an MD or DO on-site with NPs, PAs and residents. Other sites may need more support staff per provider. Don’t forget about personal rules too. For example, a certain provider may not work on Fridays.

To top it all off, schedulers must face these challenges 24/7 to ensure effective staffing. With no off days, it’s crucial that schedulers watch how many days in row providers work. They must also ensure that all providers are working within their FTE. This helps to avoid costly overtime.

Who has complex scheduling?

These challenges appear in all practices, but these four medical specialties feel the brunt of them:

Emergency medicine

Emergency medicine tops the list. It faces all the challenges described above. Of course, there’s the need for 24/7 coverage, meaning staff usually work 12 or even 24-hour shifts. There’s also a complex mix of staff skill levels to cover whatever emergency may come their way. Becker’s Hospital Report notes that EDs have many scheduling rules to follow too. In fact, among regular staff, there’s an average of 62 scheduling rules per year. Also, there are 300 schedule requests per year among regular staff.

Consider the high-stress level of this environment. Physician burnout is highest in emergency medicine. But scheduling software can help to reduce some of the stress.

Hospital medicine

Hospital medicine comes in at number two. Like emergency medicine, 24/7 coverage is needed. Also, it’s important that workload and hours tracking occurs among providers. Your software should be able to adapt to your group’s scheduling rules. This will ensure all providers have fair workloads.


Number three on the list is OB/GYN. Like the other two, this specialty requires 24/7 coverage, but they also must have providers on call. Another challenge is balancing routine office visits with unscheduled deliveries and other emergencies. Scheduling software should have the ability to work with existing communication systems. This makes reaching the on-call provider quick and easy for your call service.


Anesthesiology is another service that has complicated scheduling. The CRNA schedule must match the surgeon schedule. This is an important detail that requires close attention. There are also on-call schedules to consider and emergency surgeries to work around. The fair distribution of case complexity is also vital to providers. Your scheduling software should make it easy for admin staff to review shifts to ensure CRNAs and surgeons work together.

Scheduling software solutions for the top medical specialties

One of the easiest ways to simplify complex scheduling is to allow self-scheduling. This puts more control in your providers’ hands and increases efficiency. Scheduling software like Intrigma’s can track scheduling rules and identify staffing shortages too. This allows your providers to have schedule preferences while staying within guidelines.

The last piece of the scheduling puzzle is transparency. This helps avoid mistakes and increases provider satisfaction. Having an accessible dashboard allows staff to see who is working what shifts. Such transparency helps ease concerns that certain providers get stuck with undesirable shifts. It also makes covering last-minute openings a breeze.

Although medical specialties are naturally complex, Intrigma’s scheduling software can make things a little easier. To learn more, contact Intrigma.