Strategic Staffing Part One
As the saying goes, “There are only so many minutes in a day.” This concept is even more exacting when it comes to productive FTE’s. Strictly speaking there are 124,800 minutes each year for one full time equivalent based on a 40 hour work week or 112,320 minutes if one is using a 36 hour per week staffing model. Measures taken to match staffing levels to available work must take this as a starting point.
One common practice employed to these ends is that of counting total procedures. In this system each item has a count of plus one. A loose interval of time may also be attributed to each procedure or to a bundle of procedures. Therapy is then assigned based on these approximated “units” of work. Due to the fact that all procedures hold equal weight (a vent is a neb is a cpt etc.), staffing by total procedures shores up the art of shift management. This invariably means becoming dependent on a subjective prognostication of shift activity based on the number of active ventilators and scheduled thoracic surgeries, combined with a gut feeling born of experience.
In the end, however, assigning therapy by total procedures is like staffing apples to oranges in that there is no direct relationship between scheduled workforce minutes (think FTE’s) and distributed workload minutes. The mismatch can result in variable productivity measurement as well as increased workplace stress. Your therapists may begin to believe you have graduated from the Utada Hikaru School of Shift Management, who is quoted as saying, “I squeeze oranges every morning to make juice.”