Jump to content

"We self schedule on this floor..."


Specializes in Med/Surg, L&D.

What a joke!!!

When I was hired onto this floor, I was told I would be doing night shifts exclusively (very clearly stated in the conversation and on my paperwork). I was also told that we do self scheduling based on seniority. She said that I may end up with the more undesirable shifts, as the low person on the totem pole. I was and am fine with that. I am the newbie and I understand that as was one of the last people to sign up, that I would have to take the dregs. Fine, cool, I will work around it. Then I found out how it actually works...

We are completely short staffed. We have lost 7 nurses since my first day on August 1, and we were already short staffed then. I am one week off of orientation and I am in the middle of the pack seniority wise already. We are especially short staffed on day shifts. There are holes on every single day and night. When I sign up, I follow the rules (2 full weekends (Fri/Sat for NOC) a month, no splitting weekends and at least 2 Sundays. I have even signed up for extra weekend shifts, figuring it was the best way to get my 3 in a row. I try to sign up for days that have the most holes. So, I follow the principles of self scheduling, I try to do the best thing for the floor.

Then the finalized schedule comes out and I am not on a single shift that I signed up for. Every weekend I work is split (even thought the no split weekends rule is so strict when you sign up for shifts), meaning I work at least one day every weekend. I don't have a single 3 day in a row stretch for the next 2 months that is (tentatively) scheduled. I don't have more than 2 days in a row off. I am working every other day most weeks (which is CRAZY on a night shift schedule). I am working two nights and a day shift some weeks. I don't even get the courtesy of a phone call telling me I, a night shifter, have been changed to a day shift. I look at the schedule and want to cry! The rationale is that we "have to put the needs of the floor first" and "all staff is rotating, you are just PRIMARILY nights" (funny that is not what my paperwork says).

Then there is the holiday schedule. We put in our preferences for holiday shifts. On the paper, we had the night before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve and New Years Day. We had to rank them. The day most important to me to have off was Christmas Eve. I said I would work all of the other days if I had Christmas Eve off. The first holiday schedule came out and showed just that. Then the scheduling committee decided that only the day of the holiday would count for day shift and the night before a holiday would count for nights. We were expected to work 2 of the 3 shifts. But we didn't get to fill out a new preference sheet. They just completely made it up. I now work Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve. No one will trade days yet because there is talk that they are redoing the schedule again! My family keeps pestering me about holiday plans, and I can't make them because I don't know what my schedule will be.

Then there is the issue with night shift of what is going to happen on the night shift of each of these holidays? No one signed up for them, because they are trying to get at least one holiday shift off. So, they are going to have to just put people in. And that will probably be me.

Another issue. We are not allowed to put in requests for days off other than the 2 weeks of vacation we sign up for for the next year (obviously I wasn't there to sign up for anything last year). So, is it your kid's birthday? Too bad. Do you have to go to a wedding? Too bad. You want to take a class? Too bad. You are expected to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 50 weeks a year. You absolutely can NOT put in unavailability at any time. Hired for nights? Too bad, I am putting you on random days. You can find someone to switch with you when the schedule is FINALLY finalized one week before it starts. You can't find someone to switch? Too bad. You can't have any life outside of work and we completely dictate your schedule, even though we completely misrepresented this to you upon hire.

I understand that as nurses we have to work holidays, nights, weekends. I am FINE with that. But there are supposed to be upsides to this type of schedule. Flexibility, four days off a week, etc are all things that were touted as the benefits of nursing, and of this floor by the manager. It really sucks that half of my days "off" are spent switching my schedule to the opposite shift that I have to do the next day. Getting off from a 12 hour night shift at 730 on a Thursday and then being back for the day shift on Friday is insanity! I know this is probably not the only place that is like this, but other floors in this hospital do their schedule more efficiently.

I also know that the scheduling issues were not always like this. Only since this particular scheduling committee came into being, according to people on the floor. I am trying to suck it up and get through this, but it is straining my marriage, my health, my relationship with my child. I just feel so completely powerless over my life. This is not what I signed up for. Thanks for letting me complain and whine a bit- I am done now and will work on making this better in any way I can.

Work in Progress

Specializes in Med/Surg, L&D.

By the way, I know a lot of you are looking for jobs and I am sorry if I sound ungrateful. I know many of you wish you had these problems, because I felt the same way a few months ago. I am happy to be employed, but I didn't count on these circumstances.

Maybe the crappy scheduling system is one of the reasons why the unit has lost so many nurses. You can only ride nurses for so long before they take care of themselves and head for better work environments. Treating employees as if they're expendable (and acting as if they should sacrifice their entire personal lives for work) will only make them want to stay for so long. I don't see why some managers (esp yours) haven't figured that out.

"Self-scheduling" is something that I've never, ever gotten. To my knowledge, hospital nursing is the only line of work that schedules their employees this way. Why can't everyone just commit to working certain days of the week (with a fair weekend rotation system) and build their personal lives around the days they work? Seriously, it would be sooooo much more simple. New nurses would get the less desirable shifts and would have to build some seniority before being able to transfer off of their shifts (if they felt so inclined). It works that way in every other service industry- especially in public safety. All the EMS services I worked for scheduled their employees for the same shifts each week (one of the services even had a system of weekend rotation that everyone thought was fair). So I don't get why hospitals can't do the same.

Fortunately, the managers on my unit are (usually) pretty considerate in terms of putting people on the shifts they request (and not putting them on the dates they X out). I think they're definitely smart enough to realize that, even with this economy, nurses still have a choice and will either switch units or quit the hospital enitirely if their schedule is messed with one too many times; they try to be as fair as possible.

Edited by edogs334

Work in Progress

Specializes in Med/Surg, L&D.

I agree and I know that a majority of those nurses left partly because of scheduling, and more have put in applications on other units because of it. I would be completely willing (which I told them) to work every weekend night shift (supposedly the least desirable, but that is never where I get switched to) if I could have some sense of regularity.

When I was a CNA and Nurse Intern on a different floor in the same hospital, people generally had set schedules. We didn't even have to do rotating weekends, because some people preferred the weekend schedule. I was in school and never had a problem with getting a schedule that worked around that. I just don't understand what the heck is going on with these people.

I had told her, informally, that I would like to stay at least a year. But the hospital policy is 6 months before trying to transfer to another unit. If this keeps up I may have to just transfer then, even though I don't like what that will do to my resume. I can't sacrifice my sanity, my marriage, my time with my child and my health for the "good of the floor."


Specializes in Neurosurgical, Orthopedic, Wound Care.

I read that post and it felt like I wrote it! We have the same thing happening and it's ridiculous. I cannot make any plans because I never know when I am working. The schedule is NEVER ready until that a week before it starts and I am never working any of the days I self-scheduled. We have lost more that 20 nurses so far this year and this is what has contributed to that along with high nurse to patient ratios with high acuity patients. The stress level is maddening and most of the new nurses aren't coping.


Specializes in Postpartum & Nursery.

WOW!!!! We are a closed-unit and we do self-scheduling. However, there is no SET person who gets to sign up first (except full-time signs up before part-time, and PRN).

I can't imagine being in your situation and I can TRULY understand why so many people have left the unit. I hope things get better!

RaeRN30, BSN, RN

Specializes in Telemetry.

Do we work together!? Sounds like my floor.....ughhhh hate self scheduling! I was told to make out a schedule with the chance that it could change due to needs....fine with me...but why o why do we always seem to have 5 CNAs one day and ZERO on some days ( most days). Self scheduling doesn't work! Not where I work anyway....

JenRN30, BSN

Specializes in Endoscopy/MICU/SICU. Has 10 years experience.

This is not fair and I would not put up with it. Speak with your manager and if nothing changes, start looking for a new job. I wouldn't (and didn't) put a job before my family. Nothing matters to me more than them.

Up2nogood RN, RN

Specializes in pulm/cardiology pcu, surgical onc.

Ugh same problem here. We have self scheduling but when it comes out it is usually nothing that I asked for. I requested to work every wed, thurs, fri and totally got the opposite with my nights split up. We only need by contract 4 weekend shifts per month. Whether it be every other weekend or 4 friday or saturday nights. But we are automatically assigned every other weekend.

Other co-workers have asked in advance if they can have a set schedule due to a new baby coming and the answer was "no, we don't do set schedules". Such BS since one lady works every weekend by choice and another nurse has had a set schedule since the unit opened 2.5 yrs ago.

I can see why nurses would leave or transfer off a unit over this. The majority of the nurses I work with at night don't have children so are really clueless as to why I'm upset over my schedule and lack of routine/normalcy each week for my family.

It feels like a slap in the face when I've worked extra shifts and stayed late to help out but always seem to get the short end of the stick.

I love everything else about my unit, I have an eval coming up and it seems that's the only time when we can get quality time and 1:1 attention with our NM so hopefully this can be addresses for me.

To the OP, i would suggest talking to your NM and if it doesn't get any better with your scheduling I would try to transfer. A job should never take priority over your family and life, don't let them make you feel guilty for their lack of staffing coordination.

Edited by Up2nogood RN

86toronado, BSN, RN

Specializes in neurology, cardiology, ED. Has 5 years experience.

One word: UNIONIZE

I work in a union facility. Everyone works every other weekend, regardless of seniority. We have self scheduling, but it doesn't come down to people getting none of the days off they requested. It's more like: " you requested a five day weekend here, we can't give you that, but we will give you a three day weekend, and then three in a row off next week. I personally :redbeathe self scheduling!

Up2nogood RN, RN

Specializes in pulm/cardiology pcu, surgical onc.

One word: UNIONIZE

I work in a union facility. Everyone works every other weekend, regardless of seniority. We have self scheduling, but it doesn't come down to people getting none of the days off they requested. It's more like: " you requested a five day weekend here, we can't give you that, but we will give you a three day weekend, and then three in a row off next week. I personally :redbeathe self scheduling!

I work in a union facility and on my unit scheduling sucks. Some floors will give you a regular schedule around the every other weekend.

My unit has someone that works weekends and so some nurses work only 1 weekend each month and sometimes I've been scheduled for 3 weekends per month. So then sometimes we have 8 scheduled when we only need 6 and sometimes only 4 nurses scheduled (usually every weekend). It does no good to complain since there answer has always been find someone to switch shifts if you're not happy. It's very frustrating since it would make sense, and that's what we were told when we started self scheduling, to make it simpler and give the nurse a routine schedule.

Work in Progress

Specializes in Med/Surg, L&D.

I have tried talking to the NM. She "isn't involved in the scheduling." Hmmm... I thought you were the manager. My bad. I thought you had to approve what the scheduling committee does, but apparently you your staff do your job for you.

I talked to the scheduling committee, and they don't care one bit. They just think the floor is full of whiners. I admit I feel whiny about the situation, but I approached it in the most professional way I could- even showing them research about self scheduling and morale and put it in terms of patient safety and preventing burn out. They just could not possibly care less. They sure get the shifts they want, though. The needs of the floor don't outweigh their needs. This includes another new grad who started at the same time as me, who needs to be focusing on her nursing skills and not scheduling.

I will be transferring as soon as I am able. I am going to try to stick it out a while so that my resume doesn't show too much job hopping, and I will probably hold out until I can get into a unit that I might actually like. I might not mind the crap schedule so much if this wasn't the most boring med/surg floor in the world that might as well be a nursing home, but with only 5 pts per nurse.

Anyhow, I am going to try not to think about it anymore and enjoy my day off today before I go back to that nightmare every other day for the next 2 weeks.


Specializes in clinical ex in med/surg/cardio/BH/PED/OB.

Wow, I feel for you..I am still struggling to get a job. However, now I am thinking which is better? Having to wait to get a decent job, or taking the first thing available that makes my life miserable and makes me want to quit. Sometimes we have to out way what is going to give us quality of life. Hang in there..I hope things turn around for you soon. Best of Luck! :nurse:

evolvingrn, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice.

That is ridiculous. We are a 'fair scheduling" everybody works every other weekend. We are switching to set schedules soon and i got my dream schedule for the first round. I don't always like my schedule but it is generally pretty darn fair. Im really sorry. :(


Specializes in Tele/cardiovascular stepdown. Has 1 years experience.

Wow I hope you're surviving those two weeks!

Are you unionized by any chance? I definitely would've talked to my union rep by now since the paperwork you signed isn't what they're making you work...


Specializes in Correctional Nursing, Orthopediacs.

Miss self scheduling myself. We worked around each other and tried to be fair about it. Now management took over my night shifts have all been split up. Told her more than once that this just does not work well with me and my family. She said oh well. Well it isn't her life she is screwing up. Claimed we were not self scheduling correctly, because there were holes in the schedule. What do you expect when there are not enough night time employees to fill the week and guess what I am still working 4-12's.

that is very unhealthy to switch back and forth like that! can the people who deal with the schedules be any smarter than to burn nurses out like.. that?!

i'm sorry to hear its a bad situation, usually unions keep stuff like this from happening.