We know “equal” is always fair until it’s not… such as when sharing on-call with another Group or scheduling part-time Physicians. We also know spread needs to be pretty even throughout the scheduling time period.
However, if the spread is great, and the tallies for the Providers are even and correct for the percent load given, how can the tallies STILL be unfair?
The tally date-range used to evaluate the schedule is crucial. Remember, it’s not just rules and spread, it’s tallies over an agreed upon time-frame. The Group as a whole must be using the same date-range to evaluate the schedule, otherwise, you will each have a different result.
1.) Be aware of the date-range selected for evaluating the Tally Report. The Group may not be using the best tally date-range while evaluating the tally results. The number of Providers being scheduled needs to be considered when determining such a date-range. If all Providers are fully available (no vacations) and all are to get the same number of weekends, then it is simple to show how the evaluation date-range being used makes a difference.
In practice, Providers really are unavailable for various reasons and take differing loads of calls, so the date-range used for “fairness” evaluation matters even more. As a rule of thumb, I have found using a date-range long enough for the lowest-percent load provider to get assigned at least 1 weekend is usually long enough since the tallies will reflect this as a full-event (no 1/2 person being scheduled). Another rule of thumb is to use a long enough evaluation date-range for all the full-time Providers to serve at least 2 weekends. This allows enough time for Providers to “catch up” after vacation time off.
2.) Providers with specialized skills might end up over-scheduled when looking at cross-job situations.
Again, the date-range being used to evaluate the schedule is crucial. If individuals in the Group use different date-ranges, they will get different tallies and a false sense that the schedule is unfair!
3.) Cross-DayType tallies may also be considered for fairness, especially in regard to weekends.
You could toss your excel sheet/ abacus thing and spring for automated call scheduling software to make the whole schedule creation and “counting tallies” thing so much easier. The Group could then discuss “fair” in a meaningful, transparent, repeatable manner.
To make the math work and generate fair on-call schedule tallies, the tally date-range used to evaluate the schedule is crucial. Automated software makes reporting and counting easy.
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