Tips for building a resident schedule calendar

Residency Program Insider, May 5, 2008

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Planning a resident rotation schedule can be a daunting task, but a few tips can help ease the workload. If the number of next year’s residents is the same as this year, then planning the rotation schedule for the upcoming academic year is more than halfway done! For new coordinators, or those who have a change in their program that impacts their schedule, here are some suggestions to keep in mind when creating your schedule:

Get residents’ feedback about the current schedule in February or after your rank order list meeting. Ask residents questions like: what’s working, what’s not, and should we go from a four-week rotation schedule to a six-week rotation schedule? Then get the current residents’ vacation schedule requests for the following year so that you have the framework in place when Match Day hits. Remember to establish some ground rules so your coverage won’t be caught short:

  • For PGY4s, there should be no vacations during July or August.
  • Fellowship and job interview days must be planned and scheduled as far in advance as possible, preferably a minimum of two weeks ahead of time.
  • Only one team member (i.e. on night rotation) may be on vacation at any given time.
  • Vacation time is given in one-week increments. The program director may grant rare exceptions. The guaranteed vacation days are Monday to Friday. The weekend before or after the vacation is not guaranteed to be off, though all possible efforts are made to make them “golden weekends” for the resident on vacation.

Residents should cover other residents’ shifts. Another ground rule is to make it the residents’ responsibility find coverage for their scheduled calls. They can switch calls, but they must be sure not to exceed duty hours when trading off calls.

Build the call schedule for several months in advance. With the rotation calendar in place and vacation requests in hand, you can plan July through October, or for the first six months. This is an exacting and time-consuming task, but if done in advance, it will save time for the coordinator.


Anne O'Hearn
Program Coordinator
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Albert Einstein Medical Center
Philadelphia, PA

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