5 Tips When You are Floated to Another Unit

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    You get to work and SURPRISE you are FLOATED to another unit...::gulp:: The anxiety sets in. Now what? This article will give you tips on how to get through the shift with a smile.

    5 Tips When You are Floated to Another Unit

    It’s Monday morning, you had the weekend off, and it was spectacular! You finally got to relax and are ready to tackle the day. You get to work, coffee in hand, and glance at the staffing board, and you’re floated. Not to anywhere comfortable, it’s the critical care unit. You aren't a critical care nurse.

    We’ve all been there.

    You’re scared. The anxiety is building from not knowing anyone, any doctors, charting, or even the unit in general. What do you have to do? Who do you even ask?

    Here are some tips to get you through your float day!

    1. Introduce Yourself

    Say hello to those who are working with you. As simple as this sounds, it can be hard because many nurses, believe it or not, are introverted. Sometimes you can be intimidated by those who don’t know you, and the other way around. Say hello by asking if the nurse needs help.

    For example, “Hey, can I assist you with anything? I’m Janine, I usually work upstairs, but we heard you were busy and needed help. If I look confused, that's why. I may just need some direction, but I can help with whatever you need.” That nurse will be grateful to have you and most likely will offer to help you further.

    2. Get a Tour

    Have someone, even the nursing assistant, show you around. Sometimes the nursing assistant is more helpful because of the responsibility of the entire floor. She can guide you to every store room and show you the ropes.

    Critical things to know are:

    • The location of the restrooms for staff
    • A break room
    • The locker room
    • Water station/snack station for patients
    • Linen closet
    • The supply areas

    These little things can become large things if you don’t have a tour of the unit from the start.

    3. Get a Resource Nurse

    When you come to a new floor, hopefully, you are paired with someone to help you. If for some reason you aren't, ask for the point person or charge nurse to help you. Let her know your concerns and make sure you can come to her throughout the shift for questions. Ask of they have a resource list. Some units have tip sheets to help with location of things and policies.

    4. Remember Teamwork

    Everyone loves a team player. If you float to the unit and have a light assignment, they may need your help if you have downtime. Ask if anyone needs help with anything. Act like you want to be there when in reality you feel so lost and just want to go “home.” Make the best of your time.

    5. Use Your Strengths

    Everyone in the unit is a nurse, and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Use your strengths to help them!

    For example, if you know on your unit, you are good at starting IVs, leverage that skill when you are floated. Don’t gloat about how good you are at IVs, but if you notice a nurse has a failed IV attempt, ask if you can try. Hopefully, you get it on the first try, and they are impressed. You have used your skills in a helpful way which will be appreciated.

    Remember to address with your boss any concerns you have when you were floated, but also take in everything you learned. If you feel uncomfortable with the assignment you were given, ask for a lighter load. Let the charge nurse know your comfort level you have and the types of patients you are uncomfortable caring for.

    View it as a networking opportunity as well, which can always help you in your career. Word travels. If a nurse enjoyed you helping, it may spread throughout the hospital, resulting in a good reputation for you. You may end up liking the unit better than the one you are currently working in, you never know.

    Not many nurses enjoy floating. We like our unit, our coworkers, and the patients we work with. If you are floated, don’t let it ruin your day, instead, be positive and make new friends. Take care of those patients like you would the patients on your unit, and most of all, don’t go back to your unit and say you had a bad experience. Help each other out.

    How do you cope with floating? Anything you want to add to this to help fellow nurses?
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Feb 6
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    5 Comments

  3. by   Double-Helix
    I agree with your advice.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Feb 6
  4. by   prmenrs
    ATTITUDE!!! If you come dragging onto the unit like you're about to get beaten, you're defeated before you start. Same for coming in angry. Deep, cleansing breaths! Get mad in the bathroom before you leave your regular unit, but, get over it before you get off the elevator or stairs.

    Put a smile on your face, and face the unit like it's the field trip of a life time. "Guess what? I get to be w/you today!" It may be the biggest acting job ever, but, if you come up angry or martyred, you will have the shift from hell. If you come up w/a smile, and a positive attitude, you'll have a much better time. You may even learn a few new tricks, and make a friend. If you don't know how to do something "their way", ask. Not like, "Well, THAT'S not how we do it on my floor!", but, "Wow! You taught me a new way to do that! Thanks!"
  5. by   danielle2000
    Great advice, but I cannot stand floating I cringe at the thought of doing it. So I no longer work on the floor. :-)
  6. by   choirgirl
    Hi. This is great advice. I have worked as a nurse for many years, but now I work as a 'Bank Nurse' in the UK. For me, as I pick up work on many different ward specialities, I believe that it is really important to be able to allow the team you are working with to trust in your abilities, and to understand your limitations. Last year, I was scheduled to work on a medical specialities ward, but was the asked if I could go and work in the A&E (ER) unit in the hospital. I was extremely apprehensive at being asked, but I said I would go, as long as they understood that A&E was not my expertise, but I would be happy to help out as much as I possibly could. Upon arrival to the unit, I was asked exactly what I could do, and was shown around the department, advised on the recording systems, and given opportunity to ask questions. The shift went really well, because the communication was there, and I was willing to offer help where ever it was needed. Even though I felt a little like a 'Fish out of water' I know that my patients were well looked after, and that I worked well with the rest of the team. So, thank you for the article, attitude and communication are everything
  7. by   JanineKelbach
    I'm glad you all like it....even though I still hate floating myself, I thought these tips could help

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