Staff scheduling can be done by an office manager or a coordinator and should be done on a monthly basis and presented to the staff at least 2 weeks before the start of the new month.
If the practice employs part-time staff, it is helpful to schedule a blend of both full-time and part-time physicians. Part-time employees might have a fixed schedule with little flexibility.
Full-time employees generally offer a lot more flexibility because they are there for 4 or 5 days a week to work as needed. Most states require employers to pay overtime if an employee works more than 40 hours in any week; therefore, it may be helpful to set full-time employees' schedules to 36 or 37.5 hours a week, which gives the practice flexibility. If employees need to stay late 1 or 2 days, the practice will not be required to pay overtime.
It is important to have very clear guidelines for vacation and requested days off. A lack of clear expectations in this area will result in the person responsible for scheduling having to address staffing situations daily, which is very time consuming. Remember, the rules established for one person will set precedence for the entire staff. Do not allow one person to do something that would not be desirable for all staff to do.
Decrease in Patient Census
As long as practice employees are not contracted, they can be sent home at any time because of decreased patient volume. The first staff to be sent home should be overtime staff, per diem staff, part-time staff, then full-time staff. Be sure to send home a different person each time and not pick on any one individual unless it is a per diem or someone who has volunteered to go home early. If a practice staff person is contracted for a certain number of hours or salaried, use that staff to do something rather than sending that staff home. There is almost always some type of paperwork to be done and because the staff person is being paid regardless, it is important to use her scheduled time to the practice's advantage. This is where cross-training can be very effective.