Do You Trust Your On-Call Scheduler?

Whether you know it or not, you are in a partnership with your on-call scheduler... or should be.

Can you say these about your Physician On-Call scheduler? If yes, please submit him for the Call Scheduler of the Year Award!

  • “Well, the tallies are nice to have, but not necessary. Our providers trust the scheduler is right; they know the tallies are fair”
  • “We seldom have any weekend swaps, and if something gets scheduled a little tighter than usual, we know our scheduler will make it all right over time.”
  • “We truly are happy with the current schedule. We just want to automate it a bit to save Dr. D some of his scheduling time and get the results into the physician’s Smartphones”.

Your understanding of the importance of the Physician On-Call schedule, how it is created, and how you treat the person creating it, impacts much more than the individual Physician actually scheduled as being On Call.

The On-Call schedule touches every aspect of your healthcare business and also the relationships of the people participating in that business. Think for a second about staff/patient interactions, physician satisfaction, employee efficiency, satellite-clinic coordination… and that is just a quick list of possibilities. So, if you want an efficient, on-time Physician On-Call schedule, make sure a genuine partnership is at the base level.

Why is a partnership with the person creating your On-Call schedule so important?

An attitude of partnership facilitates communication, compromise, and all the other aspects of trusting relationships that make them so mutually beneficial and successful.

Why not a “do-what-we-tell-you” relationship?

Trust begets trust. Time and again, the most efficient schedulers creating the physician on-call calendar are able to make timely decisions because they have full and timely information that affects those decisions. They can make decisions that will “stick”, on the spot, without having to check in with a dozen other resources. Of course, your scheduler is probably not involved in all discussions about the schedule, but they often have valuable insights to contribute. The more they are included, the more they understand. The more they understand, the more you can let go of your anxiety and allow them to exercise judgment and experience in creating and maintaining the schedule. Trust is key.

The foundation for a partnership relationship includes:

  • Mutual Respect: treating your scheduler as a skilled equal with the give and take it implies.
  • Trust: a continual two-way street that is especially important when times get tough.
  • Mutual Benefit: otherwise where is the incentive to stick around?
  • Fairness and Honesty: Short-term gain by lying or taking advantage tarnishes the long term relationship and destroys trust.

All these components feed off each other.

Taking unfair advantage of a Provider’s particular situation or a staff member’s labeled status within the organization is short-sighted.

It fails to build:

  • A long-term stable on-call process
  • A reliable pool of Providers to staff it
  • Support for the Physician Scheduler and the assistant who maintains it
  • “Ownership” and the passion to CARE about the resulting on-call schedule.

If you have a great scheduler partnership, the balance between the needs of the Physicians, the needs of your patients, and those of the business naturally take on a deeper meaning. While it’s fine to negotiate hard, a trusted scheduler keeps in mind the implications. Scheduling isn’t just “my job”, or a numbers game, or maintaining the peace by satisfying a key Provider.

A solid partnership increases honest communication and information sharing. Being able to clearly communicate the rules, wants, and needs of those relying on the schedule should result in a better, more realistic on-call schedule for everyone.

Do you have such a trusting partnership with your Physician On-Call scheduler?

If you answered YES! Congratulations! Please honor your On-Call Scheduler.

If you answered NO, you may be interested in “The Trust Edge” by David Horsager. His basic premise is a lack of trust is your biggest expense. His “8 pillars of trust” may prove useful in building the relationship.

Key Takeaway

Regardless of the software, rules, or methodology used, trust is the foundation of a successful On-Call Physician relationship and an effective On-Call schedule.


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