The workload in any RT department is a fluid thing – it changes by the season, by the day, and sometimes even by the hour if an emergency arises. Therapists know health care is unpredictable and they have to roll with the punches, but when the workload they were handed at the beginning of the shift rarely matches the workload they end up with by the end of the shift, their bosses are likely to hear about it.
Making sure RTs work balanced shifts is a challenge for any manager, but there are ways to get the job done. Sheryle Barrett, MS, RRT, director of cardiopulmonary services at Bethesda Hospital East in Boynton Beach, FL, offers her take on keeping everything on track in this interview —
What are some of the specific steps you have taken in your department to ensure a balanced workload for your RTs?
We have a weight point workload assignment. This ensures a workload that can be achieved in a specific time frame. We send the therapists out with an approximately 85% productivity goal to allow for added tasks throughout the shift. We make every effort to assign coverage areas geographically as well.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from your RTs about these steps?
They feel assignments are fair and doable. There are times when staffing issues (i.e., call outs unable to fill) occur that unbalance the workload. We make every effort to provide resources to help when this occurs, and as it is the exception, not the rule, the staff generally understands.
Why do you believe it is important to try to balance the workload for your therapists – how does this result in better patient care and a more satisfied workforce?
If workloads are not balanced, therapists burn out, call out, will eventually give poor care, and/or look for another job.