floating

  1. I am currently in an ADN program from which I hope to graduate in December. We have to write a management paper and the subject I've chosen is about "floating" to other units. I would appreciate any opinions, feelings, experiences, suggestions, comments, etc. that anyone might have time to submit. Do you feel floating should be an option? If you float, do you float within certain units or hospital wide? Are you given any type of orientation before floating? How do the other units treat you when you float? I know everyone has busy, busy lives, so any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and have a great day!!
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  2. 22 Comments

  3. by   Nurse K-Bear
    I am a LPN in the med/surg float pool at a large hospital. I float to medicine, surgical, ortho, oncology, gyn, ER , telemetry and sometimes very rarely as a extra pair of hands in the delivery room( starting IV's, assisting with c-sections and helping patients during labor never have an assignment there ). I was given a 2 month nursing orientation on the surgical floor, and 2 days orientation on each unit. I had already worked at the hospital as a CNA and a nurse extern so I got to skip the basics. I usually work the 3-11p shift. I am currently an RN student as well, so it is good experience for me to be exposed to different areas of the hospital. If I am on a floor and they need to float someone 9 times out of 10 it is me. This is part of the job. One night I had a very heavy post op assignment. One of my patients needed a blood trans, another needed platelets, one had a epideral ( I think that is spelled right?) and the other had a lot of IV push meds. all procedures a LPN cannot initiate, or due but some you can maintain. I have had assignments like this before. I swap tasks with the RN and everything get's done. Well at 7:15pm the supervisor told me I needed to float to another floor at 7:30 so a RN can take over my patients. At first I was thinking to myself, you are kidding me, it is the middle of the shift and we (Meaning the RN's and I) had it all worked out. How annoying. I then took two minutes to myself in the middle of the chaos and said floating will benefit my patients and my RN coworkers. They are better off having a RN take over my assignment because the RN's can do the tasks without jepordizing there patients. It all worked out in the end. I was then floated to another floor and drew blood and started IV's on pre-op patients so my tasks were needed elsewhere. It all worked out to benafit everyone I feel. Myself, my patients and my coworkers. I have seen that a lot of nurses do not share the same belief I did that night. But we are their for our patients and that is what my focus was. Also the nursing supervisor did a good call floating me that night. There have been other times I can remember when I was a CNA I had to float. When I was not in the float pool. It never really bothered me. You just feel out of your comfort zone for a while. If the floor is very short staffed, anyone is welcomed usually. I like floating to sifferent units, I enjoy the challenge each day. When I graduate in May this year as a RN, I do not want to be in the float pool. Hope this helped you!
  4. by   Pretzlgl
    I never received any orientation prior to floating to other units. I was floated to any adult ICU, telemetry unit or floor in the hospital. Never floated to the OR, L & D or any pediatric floor.
    The staff in some areas appreciated my help, other areas took me for granted. It all depended. I think that hospitals should establish specific floating areas for specific specialties. For example, work in MICU and float to other ICU's and telemetry. And an orientation prior would be great - if only to show where supplies are located. Hope this helps.
  5. by   Tweety
    We float to med-surg, PCU, rehab, and sometimes mother baby. I work on the neuro-trauma-med-surg unit.

    We float in turn, but travelers and contracted nurses are bumped to the top of the list if they are there. They know this and usually don't squak about floating.

    When someone floats to our unit, I know from experience that if you welcome them, show them around and let them know you're there for them, you'll overcome any anger/anxiety over having to float.

    I've floated to units where they are a bit cliquey and ignore you, but no big deal, I'm there to socialize.

    Sometimes, we'll get a nurse with a chip on his/her shoulder about having to float ("it wasn't my turn!", "I'm a cardiac nurse what am I doing here"), and I kill them with kindness. On two occasions the floats were very nasty, and I was nasty right back, telling them to go home with that attitude, that I'd run short rather than have them poison "my" unit. In both cases they shut right up and eventually apologized because it wasn't they didn't have that bad of a night.

    We usually give the float nurse the easiest of assignment, and not complex neuro patients whenever possible.

    I've always enjoyed floating and feel comfortable doing so. I know how to do a head-to-toe assignment and am not afraid to ask for help when needed.

    The paperwork is the same in all these units, so floating is not that hard.
  6. by   micro
    Hey, cool a positive thread about floating. Yes, there is a down side.....and part of the down side could be that a large "float pool" or floating a nurse from another unit, maybe management's idea of helping/fixing the n shortage.

    But today, I am too up for the downside. I have moved into the "float pool" where I am. I am f/t but float to any of the units that need me. From one day to the next, I may go to ortho, med/surg, surg, med, onc, rehab, snu, pulm, short stay, neuro.

    For me and my personality, along with where I am in my nursing.....I truly enjoy the variety and the flexibility of this position. I also like the autonomy. I work well within a given team, but I am a nurse in my own right....and feel as if I am allowed to be who I am as a professional nurse within the float pool, without any/or much of the unit politics.....

    Yes, even though I do carry "some" experience as a nurse....I was given a two week orientation within the float pool when I changed over, just to learn the physical differences and the nuances of each unit, though within the same hospital.

    It is not a rose garden, every day.....but at the moment.......
    the roses are beautiful and the thorns are far, far, less!!!!!

    micro floats.........
  7. by   abrenrn
    If a hospital is short a cardiac surgeon, do they ask a psychiatrist to float? Just curious.
  8. by   mario_ragucci
    I remember, after being a cna for a month assigned to a home unit, the home unit parially closed, eventually totally closing, and they threw me out into circulation for 3-4 months before I was brought back to the mother ship. It was during my floating I experienced the most adverse interpersonal working situations. Floating is critical to the development of any cna/rn, IMHO: exposure. During floating is when you will be most suseptable to being written up, or being attacked, eaten or killed outright by "natural killer nurses" :-)

    These daze the only floating I like to do is after I eat a Scoobie Snack.

    Scoobie Do is a comic character dog that, after he ate a "scoobie snak" would float.
  9. by   FranRN
    I have worked the last 9 months on a general surgical floor. Here at this hospital we are only required to float within our specialty. I have floated to the other surgical floor and to out post surgical care unit. I recieved no orientation. I did find the staff to be appreciative and very pleasant towards me, almost more pleasant than some of my co-workers on my PERM unit.
    We have a float book. We take turns floating. The only thing is, that you had to make sure yourself that it was written in the book before you left. Somtimes it did get missed and you had to float again. If it was written down, then you diddn't go.
    I do think that if you had experience on the medical floor then you could opt to float there instead of being cancelled when the surical floor's census was low.
    Hope this helps. Always say something though if you do not feel comfortable floating to the area where you do. I was not telemetry certified when I floated to PSU, so I just told them and the other nurses monitored my clients telemetry. I do know the basics and can point out something life threatening to my clients.

    Best of Wishes
  10. by   Luv cats
    In our small hospital, usually the OB nurses do all the floating. They need them in house so if they need to go back to their unit they can do so quickly and then they call back in someone on call (if someone was low censed). ER needs their 2 people and ICU needs their 2 people. Med Surg nurses never float, because we are the ones that need the help always. Rarely they ask one of us to come to ER temporarly (to lend a warm body only) and none of know where anything is! The OB nurse's usually hate to float over to us to!
  11. by   micro
    Originally posted by abrenrn
    If a hospital is short a cardiac surgeon, do they ask a psychiatrist to float? Just curious.

    true enough, abrenrn

    but again on the positive note of floating......
    I almost considering the ability to float fulltime a speciality.........
    I truly am enjoying it. I do not float out of any area of competence or expertise for myself.....but I am more than capable to move onto a unit, take a patient load and deliver quality care for my patients.....I also do not and will not work in a vacuum, and I develop and work within the structure of the unit, utilizing my charge nurse for that shift as a resource person if need be.

    floating allows me the simplicity and the quality to just go in and be a nurse.................flexible and autonomous, within the .......

    hehehehehehehehehe: I wouldn't want a cardiac surgeon to be a psychiatrist, either, could you imagine.

    back to the thread,
    micro
  12. by   fergus51
    I am an OB nurse. I am willing to float to any OB unit (postpartum, labor and delivery or antepartum), and function as a real nurse because I have been oriented there. If asked to float to another area (like med-surg, ER, ICU) I will function as an aide, meaning I will do vs, transfers, turning, feeds, give certain meds, catheters, etc. The reason is, I have not been oriented to those floors and I do not feel comfortable taking a patient assignment in med surg after being in OB for years.
  13. by   fergus51
    I forgot to say, at our hospital we are not allowed to refuse to float, or we can be fired. But we are allowed to refuse to take on patient assignments on floors we haven't been oriented to, that's why we function like aides.

    It has become a VERY contensious issue in our hospital because we "specialty" nurses are expected to float EVERYWHERE! But, med-surg nurses are not expected to float to our unit because they aren't "specialty" nurses and neither are psych, rehab or peds. Big bunch of crap if you ask me.
    Last edit by fergus51 on Nov 12, '02
  14. by   RNPD
    fergus, med-surg IS a specialty. Unfortunately, admiin doesn't always recognize it as such. Would you want me monitoring your baby's FHR or assisting at your C-section, or measuring your fundal height? I don't think so! Just the same, I really don't want you in charge of my medical care when I am hospitalized! So I don't agree that it is a "big bunch of crap"!


    I do think floating within your specialty is the best way to go and it's union protected where I work. I will on rare occasions agree to help out elsewhere, but I won't accept an assignment. I function as the NA and boy it is hard work! But I'd rather work hard than hurt or kill someone and lose my license by attempting tasks for which I have no training.

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