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efficiency, schedule assessment, schedule quality, scheduling, staffing



  1. Tarpey, Richard J. BBA
  2. Nelson, Millicent F. PhD


Hospital unit staff scheduling continues to be a critical challenge directly impacting unit and facility performance. The creation of a quality future work schedule that balances unit needs (providing adequate staff across multiple skills) versus employee needs (honoring as many employee requests as feasible) is the first step toward ensuring the most efficient and effective use of staff resources. As an alternative to the use of expensive computer scheduling systems, this article sets forth a set of easy-to-understand and easy-to-measure schedule quality metrics that can be used via any basic spreadsheet application. The use of these metrics allows unit leaders to assess the "goodness" of a schedule and focus on identified opportunities toward improving the schedule resulting in a better match to the unit plan of expected volume/census. Higher quality schedules lead to more efficient use of staff resources by ensuring that resources are fully scheduled before reaching out to more expensive premium labor such as overtime or agency and to more effective use of resources by ensuring that schedules are as complete as possible to cover expected volumes. Resulting decreases in last-minute staff adjustments via better planning contribute to higher staff satisfaction and better patient care.