One of the responses to last week's blog made an interesting point. The writer attributed one cause of her job stress to her productivity standard. It was the same standard as her PTAs although she had a heavier caseload. I realized the same thing applies where I work. All PTs and PTAs have the same productivity standard including those working on the rehab unit. The hospital is huge. It's ridiculous to assume we're all going to accomplish the same amount of work.
Therein lies the problem with productivity standards. Someone calculated a number on paper and decided it should apply to everyone. Yes, we should keep busy while we're at work. But some of the things I do aren't billable, while being very necessary. I can't calculate them into my productivity, so it looks like I haven't been working. I can easily lose 15 minutes just waiting on elevators.
I don't think the number should be the same for PTs and PTAs. Yes, I get more units for an evaluation. It also takes longer to write the evaluation. Plus I have to do a chart review. I generally do five to six evaluations a day. That adds up to a lot of time I can't account for on paper. PTAs on the other hand are expected to carry more patients, often requiring the assist of a second person. That second person can be a blessing or a curse depending on what I have planned for my patients.
Different areas also present different challenges. Our orthopedic patients are all on the same floor. The equipment is readily available. Whereas in ICU, the patients are much sicker and require more for treatment. I might spend 40 minutes in a room but only half that time on treatment. There is no way I can make my productivity standard if I spend all day on ICU. Sometimes those patients are too sick to even work with.
Productivity is supposed to be included in our annual evaluations. We're told those who aren't as productive will get a lower evaluation. I wonder if that happens. Some of my coworkers don't seem to be as concerned with being productive as others. Yet, evaluation time comes around and nothing changes. If productivity measurement has a purpose, then it should be used for that purpose. If not, then I would like to know. There are days when the only thing that keeps me going is knowing I haven't met my productivity.
No standard is going to be correct. No matter what the standard is, someone will be unhappy. It would be nice if the standard took into consideration my caseload and what I can reasonably achieve on a daily basis. If an entire staff is being challenged to be productive, there is probably a reason beyond their control. Sometimes there aren't enough patients for everyone to be productive. This usually results in a collective sigh and slowdown as we recover for the next onslaught.