Nurses are the lifeblood of the healthcare industry. They play a large role in keeping patients healthy, comfortable, and well-informed. Although many people believe that nurses have a relatively simple day-to-day work schedule, the truth is that their work hours can change drastically. They may work day shifts or night shifts as well as during the week or the weekend. As such, it’s very important that they be able to track their schedules with ease.
The Challenges of Tracking a Nurses Schedule
Nurse work schedules vary greatly. Although some nurses do work 8-hour shifts over the course of a standard five-day workweek, it depends on the healthcare facilities they work in. For instance, nurses working in hospitals may work long hours but fewer days. It’s not uncommon for nurses to work 10-hour shifts or 12-hours shifts. Nurses who work 12-hour shifts may only be working three days a week as a result.
However, because there are part-time and full-time nurses working shifts at varying hours throughout the day and night, scheduling isn’t nearly as straightforward. The following are a few challenges that nurses face when it comes to tracking their schedules:
Nurses Regularly Trade Shifts
It’s not uncommon for nurses to trade shifts with one another. For example, a nurse might need a day off to avoid burnout, so maybe they’ll trade an upcoming night shift with a colleague’s day shift that’s scheduled for the following week.
Regularly editing the schedule to reflect these changes can be a challenge — and it can become even more difficult for nurses to track their own schedules if they’ve traded multiple shifts.
They need to make sure they understand what their existing schedule looks like before they trade a shift to avoid making their schedule more demanding than they want it to be. For instance, they won’t want to trade for a 12-hour shift that will be tacked onto a week of back-to-back-to-back 10-hour shifts.
Nurses Work Long Hours
Because nurses can be scheduled for 12-hour shifts, they will be more tired at the end of it than a person who’s working a traditional 8-hour workday. As a result, they need to be more diligent about tracking their schedule to make sure that they don’t forget the time at which their next shift starts.
The Pandemic Has Made Scheduling More Unpredictable
Nurse scheduling has become increasingly difficult over the course of the pandemic. Not only is there a greater demand for nurses, but many nurses are having to stay home sick, requiring constant edits to the schedule. Nurses need to constantly check their schedules to make sure their shifts haven’t changed to address staffing shortages.
4 Ways to Make it Easy For Nurses To Track Their Schedule
As you can see, there are many challenges to keeping track of a nurse’s schedule. The fact that their schedule may change at any time during the pandemic makes it even more difficult. With that in mind, the following are a few ways to make it easier for your nurses to track their schedules:
1. Publish Their Schedules Well Ahead of Time
When nurses know ahead of time which days they’re scheduled to work, they can plan ahead of time. It also gives them more time to trade work shifts with each other if needed, which will give you more time to update the schedule should that happen.
2. Use a Good Nurse Scheduling Software
A good nurse scheduling software allows your nurses to access the schedule and convey their work preferences to you with ease. They’ll also be able to trade shifts with other nurses on their own. Most nurse scheduling solutions are mobile-friendly as well, allowing your nurses to check their schedules on their phones. A good software solution will streamline the process, prevent mistakes, and allow nurses to maintain a better work-life balance.
3. Encourage Nurses to Use Google Calendar
Google Calendar is useful because it allows nurses to input their work schedules. Not only will they be able to check their calendar on their phones whenever they need to, but they can set up notifications so that they’ll never accidentally forget when they’re working.
4. Display Schedules Using Digital Signage
Make it easy for your nurses to check their schedules when they’re at work by setting up digital signage in the nurse’s stations or break rooms. This can be very helpful, especially if they’re coming to the end of a 12-hour shift and want a reminder as to when their next shift starts. You can even have your digital signage update automatically with each nurse’s current schedule whenever changes are made.
Improve How Nurses Can Track Their Schedules
The last thing you want is for your nurses to lose track of their schedule. If a nurse doesn’t show up for their shift in time because they got confused about their schedule, it could leave you short-staffed. This can be a significant problem, especially if your facility was short-staffed, to begin with. To avoid this problem, make it easy for your nurses to track their schedules.