PhD Position in Operations Research – Nurse-centric scheduling in home care

PhD Position in Operations Research – Nurse-centric scheduling in home care

Published Deadline Location
25 Oct 27 Nov Enschede

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Job description

Home care is any type of care service provided to persons in their own homes consisting of assistance with daily living, household and health care. It is an alternative to stationary care in many cases and the demand for home care is increasing. Home care is performed by nurses with different qualification levels. Already today, the sector deals with a shortage of trained professionals and the shortage is expected to become more severe in the future. Factors such as unattractive schedules and high workload lead to low job satisfaction and high nurse turnover. Health care institutions should pay attention to these factors in their planning and scheduling.

Therefore, this PhD project will take a nurse-centric view in planning and scheduling for home care applications. The complexity of the planning problem is challenging, since it combines routing (to determine the routing of nurses to the homes of the clients) and scheduling (labour law and work contract characteristics of the nurses). The aim of this PhD project is to develop advanced solution approaches to tackle the planning problem while paying special attention to the nurse satisfaction. The solution approaches will be based on methods such as mixed-integer linear programming, stochastic programming and metaheuristics to optimize the routes and schedules. Further tasks include the prototypical implementation of and computational experimentation with the methods as well as discussion with relevant stakeholders to ensure the quality and acceptance of the proposed methods.

The successful applicant will join the Industrial Engineering and Business Information Systems (IEBIS) section of the High-tech Business & Entrepreneurship Department (HBE) at the Faculty of Behavioural Management and Social Sciences (BMS).

Key takeaways

During the project, the PhD candidate will perform research on the following tasks:
  • Develop advanced scheduling models and algorithms for home care applications including factors important to nurse satisfaction;
  • Investigate different optimization goals and planning horizons and their impact on the scheduling;
  • Adapt and extend employee satisfaction criteria from other application areas to home care applications;
  • Validate solution quality and reasonable runtimes of the scheduling methods through extensive analysis;
  • Engage with home care providers and their employees to define requirements, get feedback and ensure acceptance and feasibility;
  • Incorporate uncertainty into the decision-making models by developing stochastic optimization approaches where necessary.

As a doctoral student, your key responsibilities will be to manage and carry out research projects within 48 months and write a PhD thesis. You will participate in research and training activities and disseminate research in the scientific community (international conferences) and non-scientific community by outreach and public engagement.

Furthermore, you will write articles for scientific peer-reviewed journals and progress reports and prepare results for publication and dissemination via public lectures, presentations, and the web.

You will also be responsible for taking courses per the research education and liaising with the other research staff, students, and partner institutions working in broad areas relevant to the research project.

Participation in other department duties, such as meetings, teaching, etc., is expected to cover a maximum scope of 20%.


University of Twente (UT)


We look for a highly motivated, enthusiastic researcher who is driven by curiosity and has/is:
  • A master’s degree in Industrial Engineering, Operations Research, Applied Mathematics, Business Analytics, Computer Science, or a related discipline;
  • A strong quantitative background and is experienced with quantitative analytics techniques, in particular prescriptive analytics (operations research);
  • Knowledge of metaheuristics and stochastic optimization methods (e.g., stochastic programming, robust optimization) is an advantage;
  • Motivation to work on challenges in the health care sector - Prior experience on this subjects is a plus;
  • Proficiency in coding with a language like Python, Julia, Java, Cor similar – Prior experience with an optimization solver like Cplex or Gurobi is a plus;
  • A good team spirit and enjoys working in an interdisciplinary and internationally oriented environment;
  • Able to carry out independent research and willing to develop writing and publication skills;
  • Ability to collaborate with stakeholders from academia and industry;
  • Possess good communication skills and an excellent command of English.

Conditions of employment

We encourage high responsibility and independence, while collaborating with colleagues, researchers, other university staff and partners. We follow the terms of employment by the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Universities (CAO). Our offer contains: a fulltime 4-year PhD position with a qualifier in the first year; excellent mentorship in a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities; and a personal development program within the Twente Graduate School. It also includes:
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2.770 in the first year, increasing each year up to € 3.539 in the fourth year;
  • Excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • 29 holidays per year in case of full-time employment;
  • A training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision;
  • A green campus with free access to sports facilities and an international scientific community;
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);
  • A full status as an employee at the UT, including pension, health care benefits and good secondary conditions are part of our collective labour agreement CAO-NU for Dutch universities.


The HBE cluster is dedicated to encouraging a supportive and inclusive working culture. Our aim is that all job applicants are given equal opportunities. When we select candidates for employment, it will be on the basis of their competence and ability. To support the workforce diversity, we are open to offer flexible working conditions on an individual basis to support work-life balance, that may include contract of employment, working hours and location, or child care arrangements.

The High Business Entrepreneurship corporate video can be watched via this link.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1488


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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