Nurse scheduling software increases nurse satisfaction

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Nurse scheduling software increases nurse satisfaction 

After reading this article, you will be able to:

  • Discuss how the scheduling software increases nurse satisfaction
  • Describe the benefits from the software system at Pitt Country Memorial Hospital

Staffing and scheduling is a tiresome process for most organizations. Nothing causes more arguments among staff nurses on a unit than the schedule. Filling the schedule and ensuring each shift is staffed appropriately and safely is a task that causes many new nurse managers to wonder what they have gotten themselves into.

Although nurse managers on every unit have to decide on the scheduling criteria that work best for them, one issue remains constant: There will always be holes in the schedule, and it’s their job to fill them.

In most hospitals, the process is the same. The nurse manager gets on the phone and begs and pleads with his or her staff to take on more shifts. With the gaps that remain, managers turn to options such as float pools or agency staff, or traveler nurses for long-term shortages.

Using agency staff is expensive, requires an effort to organize, and can sometimes lead to resentment among the permanent staff, who question why their hospital is willing to pay more to agency nurses to fill open shifts. 

Many organizations are turning to technology to help them resolve such staffing dramas. Some organizations have invested in software that allows them to offer open shifts to staff, therefore decreasing nurse managers’ workloads and increasing flexibility for nurses, which raises levels of satisfaction. 

In August 2009, University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina (UHS) implemented a management program called ShiftSelect, developed by Concerro, Inc., at six of the system’s eight hospitals. UHS calls the program Flexwork, and it allows nurse managers to post open shifts online. Nurses systemwide can view and request available shifts. They see only the shifts that they’re qualified to fill.

Linda Hofler, PhD, RN, FACHE, interim CNO and vice president of quality of the system’s flagship facility, Pitt County Memorial Hospital in North Carolina, says the software is extremely easy to use for the system’s nurses and they enjoy the flexibility it gives them in planning their work schedules. 

“People are giving us more hours than they were in the past because they have this tool,” says Hofler. “It’s so much more convenient for people.”

One of the benefits of the system, according to Betty Jo Tetterton, RN, manager of OB/antepartum in the Women’s Center of Pitt County Memorial Hospital, is that managers, or their designees, make the decision about who takes the shift. They view the nurses who requested the shift and look at the nurses’ experience levels and whether they have the necessary orientation for that unit. Then, managers pick the nurse who has the best fit for patient care there. 

Tetterton says the fact that the software connects all the hospitals in the system increases the likelihood that shifts will be used and agency staff won’t be needed. “It’s building great rapport between the units,” says Tetterton. 

Hofler concurs. “In most organizations, your biggest expense is your labor costs. We wanted to make certain that [we] have become as efficient in the management of labor as possible. This is a tool that we can put in managers’ hands, and it seemed like one that was well worth the investment to help us use the resources we have at hand,” she says.

And nurse managers no longer have to spend time on the phone begging, cajoling, and pleading. They can fill their schedule holes with just a few clicks of the mouse.


HCPro’s Advisor to the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®, February 1, 2010.