What Is Block Scheduling in Nursing?

Every nursing job comes with a slew of policies and protocols, regarding everything from your total guaranteed hours to orientation procedures. When considering a new job, there’s one policy that every traveling or per diem nurse should ask—is block scheduling available?

In healthcare, block scheduling (or block booking) is a convenient way to take control of your time. Typically, new nurses receive set schedules of 12-hour shifts across days and nights, weekdays and weekends. In contrast, block scheduling allows professionals to pick specific shifts in advance across a block—usually one month long. The result? You stay in charge of your time, free of imposed schedules.

The Ins and Outs of Block Scheduling

What is block scheduling in nursing? A nursing block schedule may look something like this:

  • Monday – Off
  • Tuesday – On
  • Wednesday – Off
  • Thursday – On
  • Friday – On
  • Saturday – Off
  • Sunday – Off

Block schedules also have the flexibility to change every week. While your first week’s block may be Wednesday through Friday, your second week’s block may be Monday through Wednesday. This puts you in even more control of your schedule, so that you can truly relax and reboot over your break to avoid burnout.

Ready to take charge of your week? Let’s explore the benefits of block scheduling for per diem nurses.

4 Benefits of Block Booking for Nurses

At first, block scheduling may seem atypical or unbalanced compared to a common 9-to-5 schedule. However, this type of scheduling offers many benefits to nurses, particularly by letting them control their own time.

#1 Schedule Flexibility

Some nurses may have a very routine schedule outside of the hospital. However, that’s not always the case—especially for per diem nurses.

Unlike traditional scheduling, block scheduling allows you to change your shifts between weeks. If your availability varies across the month, you can choose different shifts each week to accommodate those changes. This flexibility is very useful for nurses who:

  • Have a second job
  • Care for family members or children
  • Have an unpredictable or long commute
  • Want different total shifts per week
  • Have travel plans

#2 Efficient Schedule Organization

The main difference between block scheduling and typical scheduling is the ability to pick your shifts in advance. You get to decide which days you work—not your supervisor or administrative staff. This gives you the power to fit work around your future obligations, rather than the other way around. 

An added benefit? This planned schedule also allows nurses to set up a “two location” system. If you pick your shifts to be consecutive during the week (such as Monday through Wednesday), you can stay in a nearby location during your work days and commute back home for your days off. This may be easier than living remotely throughout the entire contract.

#3 Consistent Income

For per diem workers, every shift counts. Typical scheduling may leave you short on money, unsure if administrative staff may give you enough shifts for your next week. However, block scheduling ensures that you have a set amount of shifts in the future—which means a set amount of pay.

Even better? Block scheduling allows you to pick up more shifts for those weeks when you need some extra cash. This may be a factor in why per diem nurses make 2.5% more than the average registered nurse. If you’re a holiday hustler, add a few more shifts to your schedule by choice! 

#4 Travel Opportunities

Have an island beach vacation on the horizon—but want to take a per diem nurse job in the meanwhile? With block scheduling worked into your travel nurse contract, you can keep your travel plans at no sunken cost.

A typical nursing schedule may have you working 5 days per week, every week. To take a short vacation, you’d have to request days off—and lose potential pay in the meanwhile. However, a block schedule allows you to space out your shifts for substantial time off without losing pay. 

For example, a vacation-friendly block schedule may look like:

Week 1

  • Monday – On
  • Tuesday – On
  • Wednesday – On
  • Thursday – On (Half-Day)
  • Friday – Off
  • Saturday – Off
  • Sunday – Off

Week 2

  • Monday – Off
  • Tuesday – Off
  • Wednesday – Off
  • Thursday – On (Half-Day)
  • Friday – On
  • Saturday – On
  • Sunday – On

Even though you worked the same amount of shifts each week, you got seven consecutive days off within two weeks—with zero pay lost. If travel is a top priority, block scheduling is your go-to method.

#5 Work-Life Balance

Recently, healthcare worker burnout has become a more pressing topic. Due to the pandemic, about 95% of nurses reported feeling burnout within the past three years. Adequate time off is crucial to stay healthy and motivated as a healthcare worker—and block scheduling can provide it at no sunken cost.

If you’re on the road or picking up a per diem job, take advantage of block scheduling to save yourself dedicated “me” time. By spacing out your shifts across the week, you can save time for self-care activities like:

  • Exercise and physical activity
  • Stress management (therapy, journaling, meditation, etc.)
  • Family time
  • Socialization 
  • Time management & week planning (meal prep, agendas, etc.)
  • Sleep

Take control of your career. Learn more!Tips for Block Booking Schedules

So, you landed a job with block scheduling—but you’re not sure where to start. How do you adjust to having this much control over your schedule?

If you’re new to block scheduling, it may seem a little confusing at first. Fortunately, with enough time (and a decent amount of foresight), block booking can become your best friend Start with these tips to take advantage of this flexible scheduling:

  • Check your calendar – No matter the job, block scheduling requires you to book your shifts in advance. That means you need to know your calendar front to back as well as possible. Before picking up any shifts, take note of any conflicts, vacations, or other priorities over the block that may require days off. If scheduling is in your hands, then it’s your responsibility to avoid any mishaps.
  • Account for weekends and holidays – Yes, block scheduling does give you more schedule flexibility. However, almost every healthcare facility will expect you to take at least a few shifts during high-demand times, such as weekends or holidays. While some per diem nurses prefer these shifts (looking at you, holiday hustlers), others may not. Make sure you account for these demands when planning your monthly schedule.
  • Pick a quality recruiter – For per diem nurses, the right recruiting agency can make or break your contract. Take your time to find an agency that can connect you to the block booking opportunities you desire. At MAS Medical Staffing, we ensure that per diem nurses have access to block scheduling with shifts that work for their schedules—days, evenings, or nights.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – Block booking may seem like a solo activity. However, you’ll still need to share (and re-share) your scheduling preferences with both recruiters and administrators. Before signing onto any job, make sure you express an interest in block scheduling and any other scheduling requirements you may have (nights only, every other weekend off, etc.).
  • Know your personal preferences – Are you a night owl? An early morning bird? A one-day-off, one-day-on worker? Block scheduling gives you the freedom to build an optimal schedule, so get to know your own preferences! With planning, you can feel refreshed and prepared for every shift.

How Do You Get Per Diem/Local Contracts With Block Booking?

As a nurse, you have the benefit of working with flexibility. If you desire a job with block booking, there’s one highly flexible nursing contract to consider—a per diem/local contract.

In Latin, per diem means “per day.” In other words, you’d get paid for each day you work. Per diem nursing contracts are usually created to fill in a healthcare facility’s employment gaps (such as a sick employee) or cover high-demand times (like holidays). Per diem nurses and travelers alike can choose to work local contracts. This allows professionals to relocate temporarily to a new location.

So, how can you combine the flexibility of a per diem contact and block scheduling? You’ll need to find a reputable recruiter, like MAS Medical Staffing. As one of the top-tier nursing agencies, our team can find you a per diem job that fits your schedule—no last-minute shifts or undetermined pay. For our per diem workers, we offer incredible benefits like:

  • Daily instant pay and competitive compensation
  • 401(k) with company match
  • Health insurance coverage and supplemental insurance offerings
  • Maestra mobile application to pick up nearby shifts
  • Referral bonuses
  • MAS Rewards Me bonus program
  • Dedicated recruiters on call 24/7 via text, email or phone.

Find Your Balance with MAS Medical Staffing

Navigating the world of nursing schedules, contracts, and payments can be stressful. As a healthcare professional, you don’t need to add more work to your schedule. 

Luckily, that’s where we can step in.

At MAS Medical, we help you find the best location and contract to fit your needs, from location to scheduling. Whether you’re looking for a fresh location or holiday shifts, we can offer compensation packages that include top-tier benefits such as health insurance, 401(k) matching, housing stipends, and same-day pay

And our MAS Rewards Me program helps you earn points and prizes with every shift. Clock out and clock into a bevy of awards, including trips, technology, and more. When you work with MAS Medical, you can also earn up to $500 for referring a friend.

If you’re ready to work on your terms, we’re ready to help. Contact us today to embark on a nursing career that checks all the boxes with MAS Medical Staffing.

Sources:

Zippia. 15+ Nursing Burnout Statistics [2022]: The Shocking Truth About Nursing. https://www.zippia.com/advice/nursing-burnout-statistics/

Zip Recruiter. Per Diem Nurse Salary. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Per-Diem-Nurse-Salary-in-Brooklyn,NY

Reviewer Bio

Kristin Mckenna, Recruitment Manager: Kristin has been with MAS for 3 ½ years.  She began her journey with us as a Travel and Per Diem Recruiter before becoming a Recruitment Manger in July of last year. Kristin is impressed with how our company has grown over the past few years and is passionate about training and developing recruiters to build long last relationships with our candidates.  In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach in her home state of sunny Florida and spending time with friends and family.

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