What Do MDs Appreciate in Their Master On-Call Schedulers?

We recently completed a review of our Call Scheduler of the Year submissions and found some interesting remarks beyond the obvious “detail-oriented!” These are best summed up by the following statement from a physician regarding his Scheduler.

Challenges? What Challenges? It’s just numbers, isn’t it? Doesn’t it just boil down to math? It turns out to be quite a bit more than that! Here are a few of the issues on-call Schedulers deal with all the time:

    1. Dealing with a complex schedule. When there are more exceptions than rules, the Scheduler must be a creative problem-solver and diplomat who is not intimidated by the “clients” he/she serves. Not all non-physician schedulers enjoy the backing of a “white knight” doctor to help enforce difficult choices. Excellent communication and documentation are paramount for all parties involved, especially regarding on-call.
    2. Keeping more than numbers in mind. What exactly is “fair”? How is the schedule actually feeling to those who need to live it? Factors such as the spread of assignments and their relative difficulty, balancing the needs of the individual and the group… all go into “what’s fair.” And then there’s that “gut” feeling regarding Provider Satisfaction that is hard to enumerate. No wonder on-call scheduling is as much art as science. It’s an evolving process of learning what works and what does not.
    3. Handling stressful situations and remaining highly organized with limited control of time. Most Schedulers wear multiple “hats,” so they cannot simply “bar the door” to concentrate on the schedule. Dedication, perseverance, and willingness to put in overtime were frequently mentioned by physicians regarding their “unsung hero” schedulers. Providers come and go, so last year’s on-call process may need to be reviewed while in the midst of making immediate scheduling adjustments and working out the next scheduling rotation.

Successful schedulers could teach the class regarding stress management and pacing themselves for the peak scheduling season overload, especially those without assistants. The image of a calm-looking duck on water, paddling furiously beneath the surface comes to mind.

Master Schedulers manage all of the above long-term, showing up each day with an enthusiastic attitude and sense of humor.

Next year, be sure to remember these committed individuals and recognize them for their hard efforts.

This year, be sure to take the time today to really show your appreciation for their dedicated hard work that affects the lives of so many.


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