Scheduling for Maximum Efficiency in an Urgent Care
Urgent Care Centers are typically not 9-5 operations. In fact, roughly eighty-five percent of urgent care centers across the US are open seven days a week; with 95 percent closing after 7 p.m. With extended hours, there can be some challenges involved with scheduling. However, below are some helpful best practices to avoiding scheduling pitfalls:
- Hire Full Time Employees - by hiring full-time employees for your urgent care, you have a team who is dedicated to your urgent care. While it is fine to hire some part-timers or pier diem to fill the gaps for vacation and sick coverage from time to time, you cannot always rely on them. Your clinic may be their second or third job and not necessarily their first priority, which is why having a solid team of full-time employees, is essential.
- Weekends and holidays are required - The bottom line is that when hiring the expectation should be clear that all employees including NPs, MAs, Physicians, and receptionists can expect to work their share of weekend and holiday shifts. Depending on the number of staff and providers, this could mean every other weekend and holiday, or less but it should be split evenly.
- Providers should be responsible for making the schedule - the full-time, dedicated providers should be responsible for making sure all operating hours are covered. This may mean providers and staff work full 12-hour shifts or some split 8-2, 2-8. As long as it is covered, there should be some flexibility for the team to make that determination.
- Sick coverage - Although it is not common for a physician to call in sick, it is always best to have coverage previously settled. Full-time providers should have the responsibility to staff the clinic as a team. If one of them needs coverage, the other will eventually need coverage too so it should be an understanding. It is also essential that the urgent care is given advanced notice so that they are able to contact and have coverage come in promptly. These terms should be discussed and agreed upon prior to hire.
- Vacations - For vacations there should be one master calendar and should be handled on a first come, first served basis with a few exceptions. All staff should be responsible for arranging their own coverage for their vacation. For holidays such as Christmas, Easter, July 4th, there should be a fair rotation of the schedule. If the urgent care is staffed properly there should be an adequate pool of full-time staff and part-time employees available for vacation coverage.
While an urgent care center is not a 9-5 operation, that doesn’t mean scheduling should always be a challenge. If expectations are set from the beginning and followed from day one, it should eliminate the majority of issues. By implementing some basic best practices, it should help to make scheduling a much smoother process.