Home From The Editor Flexing up for patient surges

Flexing up for patient surges

June 2014

Published in the June 2014 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

Hospitalists are well-known for working block shifts. Everyone knows that hospitalists love the freedom of walking away from the job after their 12 hours are up, and all the advantages of having seven days off in a row. It’s good for doctors, and easy for schedulers.

In reality, however, fewer and fewer hospitalists are working that kind of rigid shift. As hospitalists settle down, the idea of missing every other weekend of family life starts to lose its appeal. And after several years, working long blocks gets harder and harder on the body and the soul.

Our cover story takes a look at another reason why the traditional seven-on/seven-off block schedule doesn’t always work: seasonal surges in patient volume that force group managers to get creative with staffing.

With summer just around the corner, hospitalist groups in vacation destinations are bracing for the coming surge of patients. Many of those groups are finding that seven-on/seven-off schedules just don’t get the job done.

While some of these groups do use block scheduling, they are making those blocks more flexible so they can quickly respond to spikes in volume. Some have hospitalists waiting on call for volumes to surge; others ask their physicians to work more days in their busy season, knowing that things will calm down in the off season.

While the groups in our cover story cope with extreme fluctuations in patient volume, the lessons they’ve learned in flexible scheduling can be useful to all. Think about that the next time the members of your group are feeling overworked and burning out.

edoyleEdward Doyle
Editor & Publisher