Client: University of Toronto, Department of Family Medicine
Year: 2016

The challenge

University of Toronto's Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) runs one of the largest residency program in North America with 300+ residents and 14 hospital teaching sites. A key element is the Teaching Practices Program, where 150+ second-year residents are matched with a practicing family doctor, often in a rural community in Ontario for two months.

A successful match not only respects preceptors' availabilities, but also fairly balances residents' preferences. Additionally, not too many residents can leave a hospital at the same time to go on their rural rotation. These constraints render the problem nearly intractable by means of manual trial-and-error. Staff often have to go to great lengths to satisfy both residents and hospitals.

Our solution

We developed an integrated solution that almost fully automates the tedious steps in the process.

  • Personalized surveys allow preceptors to indicate availabilities and residents to rank preceptors and/or rotations by preference
  • An intelligent mathematical optimization model finds the best schedule within ~30 seconds, satisfying hospitals' requirements while maximizing residents' happiness
  • A highly intuitive, drag-and-drop based UI highlights resident's choices and availabilities in realtime when users make changes to the schedule
  • A flexible email system allows staff to distribute schedules easily

Screenshot TP Scheduler
  • Checkmark Time savings of 100+ hours each year.
  • Checkmark Schedule is mathematically optimal, which means fewer change requests from residents and hospitals.
  • Checkmark UI displays relevant information to assist staff when making manual changes, which further saves time.

Plank is the key to making our resident scheduling a success! Our new online scheduling system has boosted our program's productivity and efficiency. The tool is a joy to use and lets us effortlessly match hundreds of people at the push of a button. Thank you Plank!

— Fadia Bravo, Teaching Practices Program Assistant