Nurse scheduling by shift:the case of inpatient care in the medicine unit at Kenyatta National Hospital
Literature indicates that the use of Management Science techniques in health service management is less frequent than expected. Yet, health service management is faced with many challenging problems such as allocating scarce health personnel efficiently and effectively. Management Science techniques can plays major role in developing solutions to these problems. This study presents the results of a shift assignment problem using one of the Management Science techniques-goal programming- to assign nurses to shifts in ward 28 of the medicine unit of Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) . Goal programming application is suitable for situations where there are multiple objectives or goals to be achieved which many times are conflicting. Goal programming output provides a satisficing solution. In this study, four goals were considered in assigning the nurses. The goals were prioritized as follows: 1) A nurse can only be on duty on only one shift a day; 2) A required number of nurses should be on duty per shift each day. 3) A Registered Nurse (RN) should be on duty in shift A (from 7.30a.m. to 4.30p.m.) 4) Individual nurse preferences for a shift assignment should be considered. The fourth goal will usually conflict with the hospital policies and the results indicated that while the other three goals were fully met, this one was partially met on Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays. Also, a high percentage of nurses (approximately 67%) were assigned at least a shift they prefered. As a result of participating in the scheduling decision and the assignment being fair, nurses are likely to be more motivated and therefore provide better patient care. This will benefit both the hospital and the patient.