Which Medical Specialty Has the Most Complex Schedule?

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.


Poor Staffing And Scheduling Are Causing Nurses To Leave The Profession. Could Employing Self Scheduling Techniques Be The Answer To Stay In The Game?

“Nothing is as far away as one minute ago.”

Jim Bishop

Time. It’s that thing that keeps ticking away on a clock. And for nurses, time and flexible work schedules are essential to maintaining a healthy work life balance. At the present time, when an abundant number of nurses are wanting to exit the profession, a happy work life balance is crucial.

What the COVID-19 Pandemic Taught Us About Staffing And Scheduling Regimens

There’s no doubt COVID-19 took the world by surprise. The surge of COVID-19 patients created a nightmare scenario which overwhelmed many hospitals. While these hospitals and healthcare systems became depleted, frontline healthcare workers suffered from burnout.

Frontline healthcare workers are an extremely vulnerable population who are also susceptible to the COVID-19 infection and many other pathogens. Some healthcare workers became infected with COVID-19 and unfortunately, some of them lost their lives. Many healthcare workers today are suffering mental health issues due to the increased mortality rates in the hospital and increased workload.

A survey conducted in 2020 by the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) non-profit branch The American Nurses Foundation, where 22,316 nurses participated, discovered that 71 % of young nurses felt overwhelmed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Due to work having a negative effect on their physical and mental health, 47 % of those nurses who were surveyed stated that they plan to leave the nursing profession. The study further noted that 45 % of nurses surveyed planned to leave the nursing profession due to insufficient staffing ratios.

Having ample backup staff and planning geared towards an efficient workforce should be the top priority for all healthcare systems in the present and in the future. It’s essential to ensure safe patient care to all patient populations. Many hospitals were able to recruit nurses from outside agencies to supplement and replenish their work force during the COVID-19 crisis. This came with a hefty price tag as some nurses reported making on average from $5200-$10,000 per week.

A study published in the Infection Control Journal of Epidemiology in 2020, found that sufficient back up of uninfected healthcare workers should be the main priority in staffing and scheduling in hospitals and community healthcare clinics. The study further noted that in order to optimize staff scheduling and to reduce COVID-19 infection rates, the interaction between various healthcare workers needed to be minimized. Placing limits on the patient population that healthcare workers are exposed to was also shown to have benefits to decreasing infection. For example, the study recommended that in order to preserve the hospital workforce, physicians and nurses should share rotations that are at least 3 days long, with 12-hour nursing shifts.

Nurse Autonomy + Flexible Work Schedules = Better Self Care And Staffing Ratios

Let’s face it, life on planet earth is a busy one. We all should be working to live instead of living to work in order to improve our quality of life. Flexible work schedules are key to longevity for nurses in the healthcare workforce. Nurses who have greater freedom and control with their work schedules and are able to use self-scheduling techniques in their hospital units, report improved job satisfaction. However, there are studies that found negative outcomes to

self-scheduling. The study pointed out that there were barriers to collecting data as well as enablers which made the study process difficult.

Any nurse manager will cringe at the constant patient census fluctuations that can happen in a hospital unit on a day to day basis. It’s true, there’s so much unpredictability that even the world’s best psychic could have problems figuring out the best nurse to patient ratios needed. Nurse managers are increasingly using alternative work arrangements to get their staffing ratios under control for better patient safety. Some alternative work arrangements include: shift work, temporary work, and non-standardized employment relations.

Flexible schedules for nurses, in order to ensure a proper work life balance should be the number one priority to consider for all hospital nurse managers who are in charge of staffing their units and nurse workforce. It’s also the answer to prevent new nurses from prematurely exiting the profession and to safeguard both their physical and mental health.

The important thing to remember is that nurses are not robots, they are people. They have lives that are meant to be lived outside of the hospital. Hospitals should search for innovative self-staffing techniques and technology to better serve their nurses and retain staff.

At a time where many nurses are wanting to exit the profession causing a nursing shortage that has a potential to have catastrophic consequences, nurse autonomy in scheduling could be the answer to preserve the nurse workforce and divert a shortage in the nursing profession. Improving nurse scheduling can also improve the nurse burnout rate and improve mental health as well as work satisfaction.

Staffing and Schedules: Yes, Nurse Managers Get Burnt Out Too!

Staffing and Schedules: Yes, Nurse Managers Get Burnt Out Too!

Let’s face it, nurse managers have a tough job scheduling and staffing their hospital units with appropriate nursing staff. There’s a lot sitting on a nurse managers plate: quality patient care, safety, and pairing that with the most qualified nursing staff. Scheduling can be an arduous daily task for even the most experienced nurse manager. Especially when you have to follow a strict hospital budget. Burn out is inevitable.

The Complex Role Of A Nurse Manager

Nurse managers have a complex role that they play in the everyday life of a hospital unit. Some of the responsibilities of a nurse manager include:

  • Ensuring safe patient care with special focus on quality care
  • Management of nursing staff
  • Recruitment of nursing and other hospital staff
  • Counseling and coaching nursing staff
  • Staffing and scheduling of nurses and allied hospital staff
  • Adhering to hospital budgets

Keeping Everyone Satisfied And Safe

Nurse managers are pulled into several different directions trying to keep both nursing staff, hospital administrators as well patients, happy and satisfied. There are multiple studies that show nurse managers spend a large amount of time on staffing and keeping nurses satisfied with their schedules. Old methods of staffing using ‘phone trees’ and calling multiple nurses to work on their days off can prove to be time consuming as well as inefficient.

Nurse Fatigue Causing Serious Problems for Nurse Managers

Studies show nurse fatigue is increasing in healthcare. Nurse managers mangers need to pay special attention to scheduling nurses on their days off due to inadequate time off, which can cause increased fatigue. Nurse fatigue is a serious problem and can cause issues with unsafe patient care, increase in medical errors, and poor moral in the workplace.

Adding flexibility to schedules in the workplace will not only improve the overall working environment for nurses, but it will also promote positive emotional health. Positive peer coaching from nurse managers who exhibited high emotional intelligence also proved to retain nurses. Nurse managers need greater support and training in order to provide the adequate support and training to their nursing staff.

Nurse Managers and Job Satisfaction

Nurse managers need to feel heard and valued in order to avoid burnout by their administrative staff. In order for nurse managers to have increased satisfaction with their role, the following is necessary.

  • Administrative support
  • Positive nurse manager and staff relationships
  • Organizational and leadership support
  • Focused need on responsibilities assigned

Saving Nurse Managers From Experiencing Burnout

Burn out in a nurse manager’s universe can be alleviated with the proper staff scheduling, tools and administrative guidance. Nurse managers have an incredible influence over their staff and the quality of patient care that is delivered in their facilities. A happy nursing staff will create a happy nursing manager. Nurse managers are the captain of their ship when it comes to scheduling hospital units and healthcare facilities. New scheduling technologies and innovations will help nurse managers to schedule their units with the most qualified and well rested staff in order to ensure safe patient care.

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What Do Nurses Really Want for Nurses Week?

What Do Nurses Really Want for Nurses Week?

Nurses Week is a time every May (the 6th-12th) when nurses are recognized, typically through small tokens of appreciation like cups, water bottles, or gift certificates. But what do nurses really want (and need)? While nurses enjoy these presents, you could give them something truly valuable that will help make their lives easier. Discover what those gifts are below.


A new coffee mug is nice, but what nurses really want from you is realistic expectations. They can’t be saddled with a whole unit of sick patients and no support staff. Short-staffed units create stress and increase the chance of medical errors, so having PRN staff to cover shortages can help keep your full-time nurses happy.

Nurses also need the appropriate tools to do their job well. Medical records systems that are user-friendly and patient-centric are important. Nurses want to spend time with their patients, not fighting with computer software. Keeping the unit well stocked with supplies is also key. Nothing is more frustrating than needing a certain item and not being able to find it. This wastes time and energy, leading to frustration for both the patient and nurse.

Nurses want training for the specific unit and patient population too. Newly graduated nurses especially need extra time with mentors to make sure they are ready to perform the job to the best of their ability. Make sure your nurses are well versed in the specifics of their unit. Some healthcare systems now offer to pay for specialty certifications or bring in guest speakers during Nurses Week.

Your nursing staff also expect pay commensurate with their level of experience and the difficulty of their job. Those in critical care units and emergency departments often hold specialty certifications. Make sure they’re compensated for their time, knowledge, and skill expertise.

And last but not least, a simple thank you goes a long way. Recognize work well done and extend positive patient feedback whenever possible. It seems quick and simple, but it is often overlooked. This type of action develops a sense of appreciation and pride in nurses.


Time is a precious gift, and nurses understand this more than anyone. They want time to perform their tasks safely and effectively while being able to spend time with those patients who need it the most: new mothers, the mentally ill, and the terminally ill. Having time to sit down with a patient and hold their hand can make a positive impact on both the patient and the nurse.

But nurses need time away from patients too. They have their own families and life demands. Give them time off and approve vacations. Intrigma’s scheduling software allows transparency, which helps nurses in the same unit plan vacations so requests don’t overlap. This is one simple way you can keep your nurses satisfied and reduce turnover throughout the whole year, not just during Nurses Week.

Work-life balance

It’s worth repeating: Nurses are people too. They have families that need them as much as your unit does. As often as possible, limit overtime. While sometimes overtime is unavoidable, consistently having too little staff and forcing nurses to work extra shifts is a big dissatisfier.

When they are on the job, allow nurses time to check in with family. Ensure that a nurse manager sees to it that each nurse gets (and actually takes) their allotted breaks. Your nursing schedule should include a lunch break and a couple of 15-minute breaks during the day. This allows nurses to step away from the unit, catch their breath and make a call home.

Flexible scheduling is one of the biggest requests nurses have to achieve work-life balance. Allowing your nurses to trade or swap shifts with short notice is one way to show respect. Life happens, even after the schedule is posted!

Also, set some rules in the schedule to establish consistency, and allow the schedule to work for nurses. For example, with Intrigma’s Efficient Scheduler for Nurses, you can set work hour requirements and seniority rules. Scheduling software that allows flexibility in this manner allows nurses to balance work and life demands, thus reducing call-offs. This, in turn, creates less scheduling work for you.

The last piece of the puzzle is continuing education – nurses must have it. Allow them to complete continuing education while at work. During Nurses Week, give them a list of free CEUs and allow them time during the week to gain some education and training. Paying professional organization dues gives nurses access to free continuing education, and it shows your nurses that their knowledge, training, and education is one of your top

Make a difference now

Nursing is one of the most selfless and noble careers out there, and while you should always care for your staff, you have a prime opportunity to show your appreciation in meaningful ways during Nurses Week. One of the most valuable ways to give thanks to nurses is to optimize their schedule. Learn more about how Intrigma’s scheduling software can help you achieve this. Contact the team today.

Nurses Are What Makes The Healthcare System Thrive

Nurses Week + Nurses Month + The Year Of the Nurse = Nurses Are What Makes The Healthcare System Thrive

It’s Nurses week, nurses month and of course it’s been “The Year Of the Nurse,” since 2020! Where would healthcare be without nurses? It’s clear that nurses are the heart and soul of the healthcare system.

National nurses week starts every year officially on May 6 and ends on May 12 which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale’s, known as the founder of the nursing profession. In 1954 national nurses week was first observed from May 11-16 to celebrate Florence Nightingales 100th anniversary of her mission to Crimea. Despite several attempts by the American Nurses Association (ANA) to have nurses recognized during a certain week, it wasn’t until 1982 when then president, Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation making May 6 officially “National Nurses Day.”

Nurses Keep Patients Safe

The first priority of all healthcare providers is patient safety. Perhaps Florence Nightingale said it best when she stated “It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm. It is quite necessary, nevertheless, to lay down such a principle.” When Florence Nightingale served her time in the Crimean war from 1853 to 1856, she noticed thousands of British soldiers dying from infections. She then toured various hospitals in Europe and wrote about her data in her book “Notes on Nursing,” she outlines a playbook of sorts for nurses and healthcare providers on how to keep patients safe and healthy.

Not All Nurse Schedules Are The Same

Just like there are many different types of nurses, there are also many different types of nursing work schedules. Nurses can be found almost anywhere these days, from hospitals to theme parks. Full time nurse schedules can vary and include 30-46-hour shifts.

Examples of nurse schedules include:

  • The 12-hour shift: Nurses who work in hospital setting will commonly work three 12-hour shifts in a row in a facility that gives patients 24-hour care.
  • The 10-hour shift: Although 10-hour shifts are not as common as 12-hour shifts, medical clinics and private practice healthcare settings often follow this staffing schedule.
  • The 8-hour shift: Five 8-hour shifts in a row can be found in school-based clinics, private practice facilities and medical clinics.
  • PRN: In Latin PRN “pre re neta” means as needed. PRN nurses do not have set schedules and usually work as needed. They get staffed when there is a staffing shortage of emergency situation.

The Pro’s and Con’s to 12 Hour Shift Work

Although, 12-hour shifts can seem like running a never-ending marathon, there are always pro’s and con’s. The pro’s:  number of patient deaths were found to be lower amongst nurses who work 12 hour shifts. More time is always an added bonus.

The con’s: increased fatigue, depression, dissatisfaction with work life balance, and a diminished social life. A study found that nurses who worked 12.5-hour shifts had an increase in medication errors.

Tips To Surviving Three 12’s In A Row

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get lots of rest
  • Boost your immune system
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Invest in blackout curtains and ear plugs
  • Take your breaks

Intrigma Understands Nurses And Their Staffing Needs

Intrigma’s workforce scheduling offers tracking metrics which tracks nurses vacation time, PTO, and those shifts that might not be so popular focusing on creating fairness. Intrigma’s patient volume planner matches patient volume to provider productivity helping to keep patients safe.