The residency schedule is the beating heart of an academic medical center. Without it, residents aren’t able to learn and patients aren’t able to get care.
The Move to Block Schedules
Historically, resident schedules consisted of inpatient rotations with weekly shifts in ambulatory clinics. This model was called into question around 2005, when a consensus coalesced around the notion that the traditional model created a conflict between inpatient and outpatient training that served neither the residents nor the patients. The resulting calls to redesign residency training have resulted in a new model, described by researchers as the X+Y schedule. The X+Y schedule moves between inpatient rotations (“X”) and ambulatory rotations (“Y”).
Today, medical schools organize their X+Y residency schedules in myriad ways. The University of California, Irvine, for example, utilizes a 3+1 block schedule. At UCI, residents cycle between three weeks of inpatient care and one week of ambulatory care. George Washington University’s residency schedule is constructed in 4+1 blocks, with four weeks of inpatient care followed by one week of ambulatory care. Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., designs its internal medicine residency schedule in 4+2 blocks.
Beyond the Blocks
The broad strokes of block schedules serve to systematize learning and support consistent patient care. Yet a deeper dive is necessary in order to explore other ways that scheduling can help residents and academic medical centers.
Researchers at the leading edge of the X+Y residency schedule suggested (in 2016) that an electronic spreadsheet be utilized as a master schedule and later filled in with residents’ names. However, spreadsheets create a number of challenges. For example, when a residency schedule on a spreadsheet requires modification, then the schedule must be updated and redistributed – an added burden for chief residents and program leaders. In addition, a spreadsheet doesn’t reveal whether a residency schedule is equitable, and doesn’t have the capacity to connect resident and physician schedules.
In contrast, resident scheduling software can be both simple and flexible. For example, schedule updates can be made in real time and accessed on the web or from a mobile app. Call schedules can seamlessly deliver contact information for residents, enabling quicker response times and improved patient care. Just as important, software can help ensure scheduling equity, increase transparency, and simplify shift swapping.
The Next Frontier
The move to block schedules represented an important advance in the residency schedule. Scheduling software that can handle block schedules is the next step in academic medical centers’ efforts to teach and support residents while delivering exceptional patient care.
MDsyncNET’s cloud-based resident scheduling software delivers four advantages: low set-up fees, simple to learn, a single source of truth, and painless scheduling swaps. Call 888-506-5061 to see how MDsyncNET can help you streamline your organization’s resident scheduling.