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3 Steps to Relieve Your Lab Scheduling Headaches

September 20, 2022

By Kateri Gabriele


Have you noticed that the sim and skills labs are super “popular” during the first few weeks of the semester? Then things die down…only to have a mad dash at the end of the semester for final simulations? Do you find yourself dealing with scheduling conflicts in your lab calendar each and every semester?

Lab popularity is a good problem to have! Follow these tips to help minimize stress and streamline your processes. Added bonus…these are things you can do right now… And they are free!

Leverage Google Calendar:

  • Google calendar is cloud-based so you can keep an eye on your simulation/practice lab schedules from anywhere, anytime. 
  • Make an individual calendar for each simulation room/practice lab space. Color code the room calendars so you can identify “at a glance” which rooms are in use. Here is how to set one up.
  • Block out set up/tear down time…avoiding back-to-back reservations.
  • Limit the number of people who can access the schedule. But DON’T make yourself a single point of failure when you are out of office…have a backup person who can log into the “Administrator” account and make changes.
  • Create and share a “Faculty” account so others can view the schedule without being able to add to/change it! This prevents your faculty from making requests “blindly” or repeatedly asking you if the dates they are looking for are available.

Require Written Requests:

  • Implement a request form. (Download sim2grow’s free template here) Require completion BEFORE a reservation is put on the calendar!
  • Include specific details… particularly if you have multiple rooms with different capabilities… so that you match requests appropriately. A small group of learners doesn’t necessarily require the largest room!
  • Make deadlines…and stick to them. A last-minute request with an elaborate set up is a recipe for disappointment and resentment. Simulation standards of best practice need to be followed!
    • It is reasonable that all requests be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the event.
    • Enlist your leadership to back you up for the inevitable pushback. Remind your manager that the best program outcomes are achieved when educational activities are designed and tested as per the Healthcare Simulation Standards!
  • Track historical use to make sure courses requesting the space are maximizing its use (e.g. open practice lab has a high use rate in the beginning of the semester, and may not need the same hours/space later in the semester).


Establish (and distribute) a Prioritization Matrix:

  • Transparency regarding how decisions to use the available space are made can ensure faculty buy-in and support. Start here and modify for your specific program:
    • Internal interdisciplinary sims
    • Internal single discipline sims
    • External interdisciplinary sims
    • Skills
    • Sim meetings
    • Lecture
    • Group meetings unrelated to sim
    • Individual person space

Remember, interest in using the simulation and lab spaces is the ultimate goal! Transparency in decision-making and clearly communicating expectations for use will make the process easy.