"Floating" rears its ugly head again

  1. Once again I found myself in the position of charging and being told one staff member (not specified) would have to float to another unit. This was not floating to a like unit - it was going from ours (psych with a med-surg component) to a cardiac floor.

    One staff member has worked there on several occasions, having been oriented to float throughout the house. The other nurse and myself have never worked on the other floors. I said the logical thing would be to send that staff member. She was upset (understandably, I think - few people like to float) and called the house supervisor. Claims that the super told her we would need to "take turns" floating. I told her she could do what her comfort level allowed, but I would not be accepting an assignment on a unit I had no familiarity with and endanger pt's due to my utter lack of experience in that specialty. Period.

    She wound up not having to go there (went home instead - said that on further inspection they decided that they in fact had the correct number of staff without her, and that she'd like the day off.) I should add that I later found out that the original situation arose because the house super had called off a person on the other unit (who wanted a day off) to float our much less experienced nurse (our census was low.)

    Who here has refused an assignment, and with what reaction? Is this common *everywhere* to try and force you into roles you are not equipped to fill?
    •  
  2. 50 Comments

  3. by   adrienurse
    I am not given a choice. If my turn comes up, I gave to go. There is a lot of pressure for RNs to set an example for non-professional staff. Floating for me usually envolves having to work with IVs, respirators and traches -- these are scary things when your background is psychogeriatrics.
  4. by   fedupnurse
    It is common where I work. Thank God we are union cause if we weren't the suits would think nothing of sending ICU to OB and Med-Surg to Pedi, etc. They are just clueless. In my facility Agency have to float first. Due to the ridiculous turnover we have, despite the hospital saying we are way below the national average, for the past 6 months or so very few of the staff have been floated because there is almost always an agency person working! Only good thing about the shortage if you ask me!!
  5. by   fergus51
    There is no such thing as no choice. I work OB and have been floated to med-surg, cardiac, renal and even ICU and emerg. Some have tried to force me to take an assignment, but I won't and would rather risk losing my job than endangering the lives of those patients. I float and do tasks only (IVs, catheters, dressings, etc). Fortunately this isn't as much of a problem at the hospital I am at now compared to one I worked at in the US. The nurse manager there actually threatened my job when I wouldn't take an assignment but the whole thing was eventually resolved in my favor.
  6. by   micro
    When someone floats, they should be given the caseload with the type of patients that they are most familiar with.
    You cannot expect a float nurse to work with ventilators if they never have. etc.
    Where I am at, we appreciate the people that float to us, because we need them often.....but never try to misuse them.
    Help is in short supply.
    Work is work, even if it is your avocation.
  7. by   Nurse Ratched
    I keep thinking to myself I should just suck it up, request orientation to the meds floors, and go willingly and happily, with Micro's idea in mind that help is short.

    But darnit, I don't want to! Seriously, especially when it's not that the other floor is necessarily short, but that they LOA'd people to put me there.

    Fergus, I would gladly go if I could do tasks and not carry a patient load, but that isn't how they do it in our facility (maybe I need to talk to the manager about this) but doesn't it unduly burden the existing staff? Or are you able to take enough off their hands in tasks that the loaad is manageable?

    Adrie - it worries me about what kind of example they are asking us to set for the non-licensed staff. To just go quietly wherever we are assigned whether we're qualified to do so or not? I wouldn't know a vent if it jumped up and bit me! The idea of 4-5 cardiac-unstable pts wakes me up in a cold sweat.

    The agency in our hospital are also floated first, and while they aren't crazy about it either, that's more what they signed up for. More power to 'em for being so flexible and knowledgable.

    Thanks for your feedback, folks!
  8. by   Cascadians
    We worked on a "medical hilltop," night shift, where not only did they float us without warning, sometimes in the middle of a shift, but through 5 different hospitals! with zero orientation on any other floor! Turns out it had something to do with new hospital Medicare reimbursement regulations, and the fact that our "home" floor manager was able to shift the cost to another unit and therefore her bottom line looked better. We were told we should enjoy it, that it would add to our skillsets, etc. It was terrifying. That, and other abuses, contributed to intolerably unsafe working conditions, so we quit. IOHO those Agency nurses who are capable of working with anything anywhere are superheroes and have nerves of steel.

    Floating is all about COST ISSUES for the suits, and is not nursing-oriented. It is stressful for healthcare personnel and dangerous to the patients.
  9. by   micro
    "Floating is all about cost issues for the suits, and is not nursing-oriented. It is stressful for healthcare personnel and dangerous to the patients."

    help is short........I/we do appreciate floats, but do not agree with the principle behind it...............

    wanna retire at 41.......anybody need a flower arranger'
    k' just micro dreaming again.........:-)

    micro and out..........
  10. by   moonshadeau
    I originally posted this as my strong opposition to floating nurses under another topic but I truly think that if fits here.

    What other profession besides nurses float?

    Janitors- their job-I couldn't do without them, is fairly standardized.
    Teachers- even teachers have substitutes.
    Secretaries- well, they can't kill anyone with their poor shorthand technique.

    Those are the only few that I can think of at the moment. Feel free to add more if you can think of them.

    But really, why do we float nurses? Those people that literally have a patients life in their hands for every minute of the shift that they work.

    Why don't doctors float? Sorry, DR. OBGYN, Dr. Psych called in sick, you have to cover his patients for him today? Or dietary, hey, put down that apple juice and go look at UA's for the day. Sorry but we have a sick call to cover. It is your duty to cover.

    The whole rampage began today. We have a step down unit, that like the rest of the country is becoming more acute daily. Unfortunately, they have lost over half of their staff but yet still try to maintain full capacity. Even though, our unit is one unit, it is composed of telemetry and step down. The only place that we are floated is telemetry, step down and ICU. Well, you might say that is ok?. Well, I have over 100 float hours in 2 months. I am the "it" girl over there. We can't take so and so because of... or that they flip and freak out too easily. Mind you that in all the float hours, there has been no education or orientation provided to any staff that floats. One time occurance, hey anyone may be able to get through a shift. But continually floating unexperienced staff is just plain dangerous. I knew that I was to float this am, which would have been ok, except I had a new grad. I wasn't going to float with a new grad. To take away from his orientation and set up for a potentially dangerous situation. "well, other nurses and new grads have done it, It worked before, why not now". I refused.

    Why do we continually become martyrs when our license is in serious danger?

    Tell the doctors, stop admitting patients, or you can float to the understaffed areas!

    Do you really want to have someone working on you or your loved one in a critical care setting that may or may not be a "float". How many more mistakes are made when people float, not to mention those fatal? Those are mistakes that I don't want to make or find out about.

    Please feel free to enlighten me or share your stories of floating.


    Stepping off soap box and waving to crowd.
  11. by   NicuGal
    We have a book that we write down the date the person floated...and it goes by that, not who has more experience or where they have worked. I would have been ticked if someone told me I had to go to peds ICU out of turn just because I have worked there!

    And when I go to a floor that I am not comfortable on, I tell them that and I tell them what I will or will not do. If there is a problem, then that floor can call the supervisor and I will gladly write and anecdotal note. We have just started a float evaluation...the float evaluate the float and they evaluate us....regarding if the assignment was fair, if the other staff helped. We also write if we felt the person was qualified to be there. This has helped keep the nursery nurses out of Peds ICU
  12. by   suzannasue
    Ah yes, floating nurses from unit to unit...I do not mind floating to a different unit IF I feel comfortable with level of care assigned...however,once was floated to an oncology floor and was puposely given the sickest bunch of pts I had ever seen...the nurses on that unit had given me those 14 pts because in the words of the charge nurse "we are tired of them"...
    Right now I am doing a "slow burn" because I am being floated to the ED "frequently" because I am "flexible" "highly skilled" and "easy to work with"...ahem...choke choke...gag...gag...I do not mind going if it is "my turn" but my name comes up more frequently than I would like...This ED recently acquired new paperwork and none of "us who float" were "educated" to its format...OK...doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out...but it frustrated me that no one considered the nurses who float frequently to this ED... This ED also gives its nurses "low census days"...thus again another float situation for us to fill...when have you ever seen an ED have "low census"???? A while back, I offered to work the ED to fill in and to get extra time...was told by their manager "we fill our own time"...is that right??? Well then,why am I floated there,then???
    I must say,I agree that MD's are not required to float to areas that are not their specialty and have heard it said by managers, MD's and administrators "a nurse is a nurse is a nurse"
    potentiating the belief that once we graduate we "can do it all"
    ummmm...NO...
    There is a book with the names of floaters written down BUT the supervisors pay no attention to it...some of our nurses can get away with refusing to float... heck some of them can get away with refusing to take any responsibility of the "charge nurse" position...I can't,why can they?????
    Absolutely chaps my hide...I feel for all of us who are pulled frequently with no rhyme or reason... other than our being "flexible" "highly skilled" and "easy to work with"....:angryfire

    micro...I also arrange flowers...did all flowers for my daughter's wedding last year...a shame our creativity cannot be "unleashed"...could the world handle it????
  13. by   shay
    Seeeeeee, I know I need sleep now, 'cause when I read the title of this thread, I read 'floater rears its ugly head...' and I thought, "DUDE!!! FLUSH!!"

    Oh, man....gotta nap.........mind in gutter.
  14. by   fab4fan
    First of all, I want to say from the outset that I oppose floating of any sort. But management will not change their minds about it where I work, so it's an unfair part of the job.

    However, if it has to be, then I don't see anything wrong with letting someone do only that which she if comfortable doing. To refuse to do anything is unfair to the dept. she floated to.

    A few months ago, a nurse from PCU was floated to the ED. I was in charge; being sympathetic to her situation, I told her we'd just utilize her to start IV's or do EKG's, get vitals, help people to the BR, etc. She refused to do ANYTHING. Instead, she just tagged behind one of the travel nurses. After about an hour, I called the sup. and said, "Send her back...she won't even take vitals, and I don't want my dept. paying her to do nothing for 8h." Supervisor told me we were stuck with her, and I should try to orient her. I told the supervisor I couldn't do that, because we were dangerously shortstaffed, the ED was packed, and this gal was refusing to be shown anything.

    Very frustrating situation; I was on her side...I would never have asked her to do something she felt uncomfortable doing, but geez, she works PCU...I know she starts IV's and does EKG's and VS. After her shift ended, I told the sup. not to send her back if she was going to refuse even taking a BP.

close