Nurse Scheduling Software Helps Reduce Use of Agency Nurses

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media , January 5, 2010

One of benefits of the system, according to Betty Jo Tetterton, 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 can look at experience level, whether they have the necessary orientation for that unit, and pick the nurse who has the best fit for patient care on that unit.

"The manager knows what it takes to keep our patients safe," says Tetterton. "If we have someone come in to work, we need to know something about them and whether we feel safe working on their unit."

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. "We have found that when we get in high census and need extra people, we have other people right there in our own division who are raising their hands ready to come help you, which is something we haven't had before."

Hofler concurs. "In most organizations, your biggest expense is your labor costs. We wanted to make certain that you 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."

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.

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Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at

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