Improving Scheduling: What's New at Brewster Ambulance
With the growth of both brands—EasCare and Brewster Ambulance—in the last 18 months, leadership has been regularly assessing all areas of the companies, from dispatch to billing to training and education. There are opportunities in several departments for consolidation and leveraging our teams to bring more efficiencies and economies of scale. Scheduling is one area we are looking at ways to improve information flow and how we can better accommodate the needs of our team regarding their work shifts and duties.
In the past, supervisors were responsible for staffing and organizing the schedule for their base. However, the company is now looking at ways to take the load off of supervisors so they can focus more on in-field operations and taking care of what the team needs for the best patient care. The long-term goal being that both Brewster and EasCare scheduling is all done from one centralized scheduling office.
The first phase of this centralization is addressing Brewster Ambulance Service scheduling, and eventually incorporating EasCare Ambulance Service scheduling as well.
In the scheduling world, it's nearly impossible to create a schedule where everyone is partnered up and schedules are set, but then the morning comes and life happens. Sometimes it's traffic. Sometimes there's a sick child who has to stay home with a parent. Sometimes a team member becomes ill. Regardless of the situation that arises last minute, scheduling does its best to cover for those who have last-minute life changes that impact their shift.
Schedulers piece it together as best they can as they know that things happen last minute. Scheduler Andrea McDonagh says, "We rely heavily on Plan-IT. It does a good job and allows us to put in our callouts, pages out any openings we have. Every night Aimee sends out an email blast for anyone wanting to pick up anything the next day."
The aim of scheduling is to go through and see who would be the best candidate for an open shift. The checklist generally includes making sure that the shift requester qualifies for the shift, has seniority and enough 911 experience (if a 911 shift, for example), that they’ve worked on a similar truck before, and that they are ready for the day. They do this through the team member's calendar and view their work history. They also may contact the operations manager or field supervisor to find out more about the candidate.
Here are a few tips to help make scheduling a smoother experience for everyone as we continue to build out this new department:
- Feel free to contact scheduling directly with questions or concerns either at the Brewster Ambulance Weymouth headquarters, call 781-808-9020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- For per diem, if you're not able to meet your requirements (32 hours per month for BLS, 48 per month for ALS) it's important to check in with scheduling and keep the lines of communication open. Andrea says, "Stay in touch. If you’re having trouble making it work, talk to us."
- Call scheduling back! When the schedulers leave you a voice mail about the shift you requested, please call them back, even if you've changed your mind about the shift.
- The new scheduling department is designed to help you schedule your shifts. In the past, the practice was to go to the base supervisor to coordinate schedules or pick up a shift. Now there is a new department focused 100% on scheduling and to make it easier to get the shifts you want.
- Utilize Plan-IT shift requests to help fill the schedule.
- Remember that weather events impact scheduling—not just from the team's perspective, but our retail clients such as dialysis patients. If a storm is being forecasted, many dialysis patients change their treatment schedules last minute. This throws scheduling into a disarray, and last minute adjustments have to be made to accommodate the changes. Be patient and work with scheduling to make it work for you.
- Read your emails from scheduling promptly. In many cases, scheduling has to accommodate last minute changes in the team's availability as well as patient changes. Email blasts go to available team members seeking shifts, and are time sensitive.
- If you have concerns about your schedule, you can also discuss them with your OPS manager
Although the scheduling department is new, we are constantly seeking better processes and methods for communicating shift availabilities and helping the team coordinate their shift schedules. If you have any suggestions or would like to offer ideas on how to improve scheduling, email email@example.com.