Done in a Day: The 4 Ingredient On-Call Schedule

Have you heard about “4-ingredient” cookbooks? How about the book “A Man, a Can, and a Plan”? What do they all have in common? They each advocate all you need to do is assemble the four ingredients listed, follow the easy-to-read directions, and viola… dinner is ready!

Here’s a tasty example of such a recipe from “A Man, a Can, and a Plan”:

Red Bull Steak on the Grill

    • 1 – 8oz can Red Bull Energy Drink
    • 4 – boneless strip steaks (2 lbs trimmed of fat)
    • 1 – 10oz can fat-free beef gravy
    • 1 – 4 oz can sliced, drained mushrooms
    • Steak seasoning (optional, but strongly suggested)

Then, follow the easy photo directions in the book and feed the clan.

Well … Here’s my “4-ingredient” version for on-call physician scheduling, done-in-a-day.

No Bull On-Call Scheduling

1. Map Out & Assign Your Current Holiday Schedule

You may have to find your past history and use it to define what is “fair” for the current year, but that’s outside of the scope of this recipe.

    • Similar to Red Bull, find it, pack it up and bring it with you.

2. Gather, define, and/or Assign all the Exclusions

These are all the reasons a Physician can’t take a call on a date such as vacation, a satellite clinic assignment, or a day off. They may be rules such as if a Physician finishes a call on the weekend, he does not do call the following week.

    • Similar to boneless strip steaks, trim the fat … leave only the necessary beef!

3. Use Your On-Call Schedule Template or Pattern to Fill in the Schedule

Some pre-assembly is required. (You didn’t really think it would be THAT easy did you?)

Whether you use a repeating template or a chain of rules that determine your scheduling pattern if you are looking for the quickest way to get the on-call schedule done, a schedule that has results you can readily pre-define works best. No preferences, simply yes-no chained rules. It’s all “in the can”!

    • Similar to a can of fat-free beef gravy, there’s more in that can than just the beef!

There is a whole raft of spices and other ingredients to give you exactly the pre-determined spread, thickness, and “taste” you are looking for. If you were to make your fat-free schedule from scratch ahead of time, you essentially have the same idea: make a plan-ahead schedule you can simply use when ready and not have to create on the spot.

If your schedule is truly random or driven by percent load factors to determine fairness, you do not have a “4 ingredient” on-call schedule. You need a more sophisticated “cookbook” with more robust features and a documented “recipe” created just for your Group, such as our TigerConnect Physician Scheduling Classic!

4. Fill in the Remaining Unscheduled Days

The bulk of the on-call schedule is now in place, but there will be dates left to fill where the Physician called for in your plan was not available in the active scheduling area. You can fill these dates yourself, using your best judgment, or you could use software to fill some of them. Generally, your judgment is quicker and more nuanced than any software. You know exactly who the best fit is for that particular date in the on-call scheduling “puzzle”.

    • Similar to the mushrooms you buy fresh and slice by hand, your personal touch is generally more satisfying than the pre-fab ones found in “canned” software.

Oh, and the “Steak Seasoning?”

That’s making the on-call schedule only available to authorized viewers who need it, wherever they are, and whenever they want it. These viewers can freely print however many copies of the on-call schedule they may want, or get it in their SmartPhones and not ever have to print anything at all.

Now, would you please pass the salt?


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