Scheduling nurses can be trickier than with staff in other industries as you must properly fill every shift, every time while preventing nurse burnout and fatigue. Plus, there are compliance rules and sometimes union rules to consider. The best nurse scheduling software navigates you through these issues, helping you create a schedule that meets both patient and healthcare provider needs.
We looked at 15 of the most popular scheduling software both specifically for nurses and for general use, judging by price and user interface as well as function. We narrowed it to the four best plus one special callout. In short:
- Deputy: Best overall scheduling software for nurses
- Homebase: Best for facilities experiencing (or anticipating) a high turnover of staff
- SocialSchedules: Best for home healthcare or roaming nurses
- Schedule Flex by Shiftboard: Best for managers that struggle with unfulfilled shifts
- Honorable mention—IntelyCare: While it didn’t score as highly in our evaluation as the others, IntelyCare is our recommendation for best scheduling software with ties to temp nurses, and deserves a special callout in this list.
Best Nurse Scheduling Software Compared
$2.50–$4.50 per employee ($10 minimum)
$0–$99.95 per location
$0–$39.99 per location
Call for quote
For specific locations
For one location
PTO and break planning
Integrates with payroll, HR software
Time clock included
In higher plans
Excellent; moderate learning curve
Good; high learning curve
24/7 live chat, monthly training, videos, how-to’s
Phone, email, chat, articles, videos
24/7 chat support, articles, videos
Phone, email, chat, some help articles
Real-world user scores*
4.5 out of 4 on Android
4.8 out of 5 on iOS
4.4 out of 4 on Android
4.8 out of 5 on iOS
4.1 out of 4 on Android
4.8 out of 5 on iOS
4.7 out of 4 on Android
4.7 out of 5 on iOS
*User scores are averaged across multiple third-party review sites.
New to scheduling? Before you start, check out our guide to scheduling employees to get an idea of what’s expected.
Deputy: Best Overall Software for Nursing Staff Scheduling
Deputy is a feature-rich, easy-to-use scheduling app that is highly versatile. While not No. 1 on our general list of best employee scheduling apps, it takes the top spot here because it has more tools suited for nursing than Homebase. You get great scheduling tools including rules-based autoscheduling, an excellent mobile app that can include a time clock, and more. It stands out with its stress profile, which monitors maximum scheduled hours and can help you prevent nurse fatigue.
This app earned 4.69 out of 5 in our evaluation. It had perfect scores for pricing, scheduling tools, popularity, and reporting, and an excellent 4.63 for tools especially needed in the nursing industry, such as rapid shift fulfillment. Ease of use knocked down its score some, as it does not have live phone support. Its mobile app had the best score for reliability.
Deputy has a free plan, although it’s more limited than those of Homebase or SocialSchedules, allowing only 100 shifts per month. It has fewer features than its paid plans. Nonetheless, if you are a small center with basic needs, it could fit the bill.
Deputy’s free plan may not be available in all countries. Thus, it may not appear on your website or even in the free trial. If you are interested in the limited free version and don’t see it on the pricing page, try opening an incognito window on your browser and searching again.
If all you need is scheduling and have a small number of nursing staff, then Deputy’s Scheduling Plan is a deal at $2.50 per employee per month ($10 per month minimum). If you need scheduling and time and attendance, then get the Premium plan at $4.50 per employee per month. (You need this plan if you want to integrate with payroll software.) Of course, it also has an Enterprise Plan, with added features and custom pricing.
One unique plan Deputy provides is Flexi Weekly, which gives you all the tools in Premium for only $2 per employee per week they are scheduled (50 cents per week for those not scheduled). This is most cost-effective when only about half your nurses are scheduled in a given week or if you have slow seasons where you may not schedule nurses but want to keep them on standby. Contact Deputy for more details.
- Stress profiles: Nursing is not an easy job, and burnout is always a danger. Deputy alone offers stress profiles of the software we considered. You can mandate the maximum number of hours in a shift or day, hours or days in a week, and minimum overnight hours between shifts. Deputy will then alert the scheduler if a shift violates a stress profile and will not allow employees to take a shift that violates their stress profile. You can override the rules, but it’s a good way to ensure your nurses get the downtime they need.
- Schedule staff in minutes: Deputy’s scheduling tools are easy to use and let you create schedules from scratch, use templates, or set up rules and let Deputy’s AI fill in the blanks. It can take into consideration labor rules, availability, and certifications. While not as extensive as Shiftboard, it’s nonetheless complete. The forecasting tool can help you predict future staffing needs based on trends you set—say, an increase in accidents during tourist season—and will take this into account when autoscheduling too.
- Communication: We like Deputy’s communication tools, which include video. This is a great way to send all your staff quick trainings, such as for a new piece of equipment or a refresher on conducting a procedure. Even better, it has a shift journal section that nurses can use to record problems for management. You set access to the journals to ensure confidentiality. You can also add questions such as for health screening.
- Compliance tools: Deputy’s compliance tools are not as robust as those of SocialSchedules or Shiftboard, but they are still strong. It offers smart wage and compliance tools such as meal and rest breaks and overtime. You can manually add other rules. It also includes compliance alerts.
- Mobile app: Deputy’s mobile app lets managers create and publish schedules in minutes, find replacements, send messages, and more. Employees can use it to see shifts, request trades, and manage availability. With the Premium Plan, it also serves as a time clock with geofencing. The mobile app is overall highly rated—although all of those on this list rated over 4.0 and usually over 4.5. The reviews are generally favorable, although there are some amusing comments from April when they were testing the software and accidentally sent messages to customers across multiple time zones.
Homebase: Best for Facilities Experiencing High Turnover
An estimated 34% of nurses say they’ll likely leave their current roles by the end of 2022—some citing burnout and a high-stress environment as primary concerns. Homebase can help not only with scheduling software to help relieve employee burnout but also with hiring and onboarding tools to help you fill positions quickly and easily. It’s the only scheduling software on our list with hiring, onboarding, and other HR functions such as consulting.
You’ll find Homebase ranking No. 1 on our best employee scheduling software. Here, it falls to No. 2 because it does not have as many nursing-specific tools as Deputy. It also has a lower score for popularity, although its user review scores are strong for both the software and the mobile app. Homebase got a perfect 5 out of 5 for pricing and reporting tools, and high scores for its general scheduling tools and ease of use. Overall, it scored 4.41 out of 5.
Homebase’s pricing, unlike Deputy’s, is by location rather than person and includes unlimited employees. Depending on how many employees you have in your office, it could be a cheaper option.
The free version primarily covers scheduling, time off, and communication. Like the others, it’s extremely limited, but it does stand out in that it has employee feedback tools, including shoutouts and pay advances. Further, it offers free job posting and applicant tracking, something the others don’t have at all. It ranks No. 1 for the best free employee scheduling software.
Its Essentials Plan runs $19.95 per location per month ($14 per month with the annual plan) and offers a good toolset for scheduling and time tracking. However, if you want to track PTO and have time-off controls, you need the Plus Plan which runs $49.95 per location per month ($35 monthly with the annual plan). The All-in-One Plan offers HR and compliance support plus designing and storage of employee documents, and can relieve you of some of your HR burdens. It costs $99.95 per month ($70 per month per location on the annual plan).
- Hiring: Keep your office well-staffed with Homebase’s hiring and onboarding tools, something none of the other software on our list offer (IntelyCare does tie to its temp agency, however). You can customize job descriptions for posting on hiring boards like Indeed, collect referrals, filter applications with screener questions, and track and communicate with candidates.
- HR tools: The All-in-One Plan comes with onboarding and even HR consulting. If you’re a small business, like a chiropractic center, that doesn’t need a full-time HR person, this can help you find and keep happy employees. This, too, is something only Homebase offers.
- Scheduling tools: While Homebase has fewer nursing-specific tools than Deputy and Shiftboard, it does offer nearly every standard tool we looked for and workarounds for some of the functions we sought. (For example, you can assign a shift title as “On-Call.”) It has shift screening questions, but unlike Deputy, you can ask these at the start of a shift—for example, to take a nurse’s temperature before her shift.
- Time clock: Homebase comes with a time clock that feeds into time sheets for easy payroll. You can have employees clock in on a computer, their mobile app, or even with an integrated POS system. Homebase stands out in that if the Wi-Fi is down, it can store the information and send it to the cloud once the internet is restored.
- Mobile app: Like Deputy, the mobile app is robust, letting managers create schedules, share shift information, fill slots, and more. Employees can see schedules, manage availability and time off, swap shifts, and clock in and out. Overall, the mobile app is highly rated by users. However, in May, there were multiple complaints of login issues and the app not “being as good as it was.” This could be due to a recent update by Homebase.
SocialSchedules: Best for Home Healthcare or Travel Nurses
We like SocialSchedules for its ease of use and off-site address tools, which make it a good choice for home healthcare or other medical facilities that have nurses working off-site regularly. SocialSchedules also has strong compliance tools and a highly rated mobile app. It often ranks well in our lists for employee scheduling software for different industries.
SocialSchedules earned a strong 4.09 out of 5 in our evaluation. It earned perfect scores for pricing and reports, and high scores for scheduling tools and ease of use. In fact, it’s second to Homebase for ease of use. Its score for nursing-specific tools like on-call scheduling and union compliances brought its overall rating down.
SocialSchedules is on our best employee scheduling software with a specific callout for nurses and medical staff. That’s because we were impressed with its certification scheduling, shift swapping, and overtime rules. Nonetheless, a deeper dive for nursing-specific features brought this product lower in rank for this evaluation.
Like Homebase, SocialSchedules prices by location rather than person, and includes unlimited employees. Its plans are cheaper than Homebase. While it has a Starter Plan for $15.95 per location per month ($12.99 per month with the annual plan), we recommend the Plus Plan which has certification tracking and off-site addresses (for home health care). This runs $39.95 per location per month ($33.99 monthly with the annual plan). You can also get the Enterprise Plan with custom pricing and dedicated support and customizations.
There’s a free Basic Plan with extremely limited tools (scheduling, time off, communication). It is good for up to 10 employees. While none of the free plans offered by the software on our list are great choices for healthcare, we think Homebase’s free plan has more to offer.
- Shift lock: In addition to the usual shift management tools found in all the software on our list, SocialSchedules adds one unique feature: Shift Lock. This lets you lock a shift so that an employee cannot swap or drop it. This is great for training or when a patient needs specialty care.
- Labor compliance: SocialSchedules is second only to Shiftboard when it comes to labor law compliances. You can set the rules, and it will prevent them from being broken in the schedule and send alerts if someone breaks them (such as failing to take a required lunch break). You can also add certification and time-tracking rules. SocialSchedules saves histories and reports for up to seven years (depending on plan). Compare this to four for Homebase.
- Off-site Addresses: If you have nurses who work in multiple locations, such as for home health care, then you’ll like the Off-site Address feature. This tool (available with Premium and higher plans) lets you assign specific addresses to a shift. SocialSchedules will automatically find the closest match on Google Maps and include it in the shift notification. (Deputy has a similar feature.)
- Mobile app: SocialSchedules’ mobile app works for both managers and employees but is simpler than Deputy or Homebase. Managers can edit time cards, approve time off and shift swaps, and message employees. Employees can see schedules, note availability and time off, swap shifts, and send messages. It is highly rated, although it had some issues late last year when Facebook tightened its security, causing users to not be able to log in with SocialSchedules through Facebook. They’ve since resolved the issue.
Schedule Flex by Shiftboard: Best for Filling Shifts
If ensuring you have all your shifts filled consistently and with qualified personnel is your main issue, then we recommend Schedule Flex by Shiftboard. Its tools for filling empty shifts, both expected and sudden, blow away the others. It also has excellent compliance tools that work for union agreements as well as local labor laws, strong scheduling functions, and time-off management. It integrates with payroll. Overall, it’s a great tool for reducing your shift-fulfillment stress.
Despite having so many standout tools, Shiftboard only earned 3.8 out of 5 on our list. That’s because it lost points for pricing, which is not transparent and lacks a free plan. It didn’t have as many reviews as the others on our list, and its app had the most complaints, despite its high user scores. Schedule Flex’s complexity gives it a higher learning curve as well, although users say once you master it, it’s a lifesaver.
Shiftboard no longer lists its prices on its website but requires you to call for a quote. In the past, we’ve seen prices that ran $2–$7 per employee, per month, and other third-party sites list plans running $45—$400 per month for a set number of employees. However, these sites list different plan names from Shiftboard’s current structure. Therefore, use this information only for a rough comparison.
You’ll need to call for a quote to get accurate pricing. Be sure to specify that you want Schedule Flex, which is designed for service industries, as opposed to Schedule Pro, which is for production facilities.
- Rapid shift fulfillment: Emergencies happen, even for emergency room personnel. Shiftboard Schedule Flex has excellent tools for rapid filling of shifts that come unexpectedly open. It can automatically contact available and qualified staff by email, text, and even automated phone calls to fill a slot quickly. It also alerts managers about last-minute shift changes and employee availability so they can be proactive in finding a replacement. Shiftboard also has a shift shuffling tool that can recommend shift assignment changes to ensure coverage—something we did not find in other schedulers on this list.
- Worker fatigue prevention tools: In addition to the standard tools of overtime alerts, PTO planning, and availability that you’ll find with the others on our list, Schedule Flex has additional tools, like industry-specific work standards and rules. Self-scheduling lets your nurses make shift decisions around the events in their lives while employing rules and impact explanations to ensure they make informed choices. It also offers real-time audits and icons to signal when an employee may be violating overtime rules. (It does allow overrides for unique situations, such as emergencies or surgery that runs long.)
- Intelligent autoscheduling: While Deputy also has autoscheduling, Shiftboard stands out with its level of detail and flexibility. Its autoscheduler will consider not just availability, credentials, and compliance, but also seniority if you wish. It can include your pool of temporary or contingent workers for filling open shifts.
- Strong union compliance tools: Shiftboard is so confident with its compliance tools that it offers a compliance guarantee, something no other software we considered offers. Its tools include proactive scheduling recommendations based on configured rules (for location, industry, and union, and even internal policies as configured). It enforces the rules and records violations, overrides, and justifications for auditing. It’s the most complete compliance system we found.
- Mobile App: Shiftboard’s mobile app works for team members and managers, enabling schedule views, shift trade or pickup, and availability and time-off management. It also has clock in/clock out capability with geofencing. It earned high scores, but the negative reviews are almost all 1-star, with issues concerning download problems, login problems, and reliability. Deputy is the most reliable with the fewest complaints.
Honorable Mention: IntelyCare—Best for Access to Temp Staff
IntelyCare is a temp nursing tool for healthcare facilities that need a last-minute fill for a shift or a longer-term substitute. It offers free scheduling software. While it didn’t rank as high as the others on our list, it deserves a callout because the schedule ties into the IntelyCare system, meaning if you have an open shift you cannot fill, an IntelyCare nurse may be able to step in.
The scheduler is free to facilities with up to 150 employees. It offers setup guidance and training videos to get you started. The schedule includes predictive analysis to help you spot scheduling conflicts and open shifts, allowing shift swapping among your nurses.
You’ll need to register your facility with IntelyCare to use the scheduling app. The staffing platform is fully integrated in cities and regions covered by IntelyCare. You pay IntelyCare nurses on a per diem basis.
How We Chose the Best Nurse Scheduling Software
We’ve evaluated scheduling software for years, so for this guide, we took a deeper dive into what each had to offer the healthcare industry. We also looked at nursing-specific software we’d not considered before. We started with 15 products and narrowed it down to the five that offered the best functionality while keeping within a small business budget.
Deputy scored highest in our evaluation not only because it offers a fantastic range of scheduling and reporting tools at a great price, but also because many of its tools are well suited to the needs of the nursing industry.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
20% of Overall Score
25% of Overall Score
This score covered the basics for any scheduling software: shift swap, mobile app, messaging employees, PTO request capability, and automatic scheduling to name a few. Homebase and Deputy earned perfect scores, but all scored high.
20% of Overall Score
Here we looked for features that addressed the unique needs of healthcare, such as on-call scheduling, rapid-response fills, and union compliances. Partial credit was given where there might be a scheduling tool that could adapt to the purpose. Here, Shiftboard took the lead with a perfect score.
5% of Overall Score
All our research still does not replace the experiences of real-world users. Thus, we look at scores and the number of users reviewing on popular review sites like Capterra and G2, plus the popularity of the apps on Android or iOS. Only Deputy earned a 5 out of 5.
10% of Overall Score
Schedule reports are important for payroll, labor costing, and HR. We considered the number and customizability of reports. All the software on our list had perfect scores, although some need a higher-priced plan for custom reporting.
20% of Overall Score
Ease of use takes into account not only interface, but training, integrations, and phone support. Homebase earned the highest score with 4.69 out of 5.
When looking for the best nursing scheduling software, consider your needs. Are you looking for a basic software that can include certificate tracking and availability, or do you need something more focused on handling quick shift fulfillment? The software on our list are all excellent but work best for particular situations.
Nonetheless, we found Deputy to be the best overall nurse scheduling software. It offers an excellent range of tools and a highly rated, reliable mobile application that lets you create schedules as well as view them. Even better, many of its tools address the unique needs of the health industry. The free trial is limited, but a great way to get started. Sign up today.