Practice Improvement| Volume 45, ISSUE 4, P425-432, July 2019

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Using Mathematical Modeling to Improve the Emergency Department Nurse-Scheduling Process

Published:March 07, 2019DOI:



      Nurse scheduling within an emergency department can be a very time-consuming process as nursing leadership works to reach sufficient nurse-staffing levels across every day of the schedule while also working to satisfy nurse preferences.


      A mathematical model is formulated to determine nursing shifts to minimize the number of shifts across a day while accounting for staffing level requirements, nurse preferences, and meal breaks.


      A daily schedule based on nursing shifts was created and used within the self-scheduling process. Implementing the schedule improved nurse-staffing levels while decreasing the time necessary to reconcile the monthly schedule, resulting in the potential to increase nurse satisfaction.


      The emergency department can use mathematical modeling to improve the nurse-scheduling process.

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      Anna Camille Svirsko is a PhD Student, Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.


      Bryan A. Norman is Department Chair, Department of Industrial, Systems, and Manufacturing Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.


      David Rausch is Manager of Children’s Express Care, Children’s Community Pediatrics, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.


      Jennifer Woodring is Unit Director, Emergency Department and Observation Unit, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.