UBC Graduate Research

A rapid evidence assessment : the perceptions of automated self-scheduling by acute care nurses Halket, Debra


Health care organizations (HCOs) are confronting and will continue to face nursing shortages. These continued shortages “reflect fundamental changes in population demographics, career expectations, work attitudes and worker dissatisfaction” (American Hospital Association, 2002, p. 2). To retain and successfully recruit nurses, HCOs must create structures and work environments that empower and support nurses (Laschinger & Finegan, 2005). The clinical areas that must be staffed by critical care nurses are significantly impacted by the current nursing shortage. This internal shortage is due in part to the expansion of services, particularly within interventional radiology. To address this shortage, the nursing leadership, in their commitment to creating healthy work environments and improving the quality of work life for their nurses, has expressed an interest in learning about automated self-scheduling. MacPhee and Borra (2012) have reported that flexible work options, which include self-scheduling, are associated with nurse retention and job satisfaction. A rapid evidence assessment (REA) and environmental scan was conducted to learn what nurses perceive to be the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats of automated self-scheduling. The literature related to nurses reported perceptions of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats were scarce and what was found was judged to be of low evidence. The environmental scan was limited to interviews with three nurses involved with manual self-scheduling. The literature included four articles of nurse leaders reporting on the planning, selecting, training, and implementation of an automated self-scheduling system. The benefits of implementing automated self-scheduling included significant cost savings, more efficient and effective staffing and scheduling, time freed for managers to focus on other important issues, increased nurse and patient satisfaction, and better nurse retention and recruitment. Although nurses involved with automated self-scheduling were unable to be located, the environmental scan included interviews with three nurses involved in manual self-scheduling. These nurses were able to report their views of self-scheduling, which highlighted the importance of nurses having control over their work schedules, as it provided them with flexibility in their schedules and gave them a better home and work-life balance. These findings correlated to the literature on manual self-scheduling. Despite the limitations of the REA and environmental scan, automated self-scheduling does have merits for point of care nurses, nursing leadership, the organizations and patients. This report presents the following recommendations to nursing leadership to facilitate their decision making related to automated self-scheduling for their critical care nursing staff: 1. Invest in automated self-scheduling software that can be piloted in a select number of units and eventually spread throughout the organization. 2. Work with the provincial nurses’ unions. 3. Openly share the data reports generated from the self-scheduling software with staff to gain efficiencies and effectiveness in business and staffing and scheduling practices as well as to engage and improve communication between and amongst all stakeholders.

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