New nurse assigned to float - page 2

by NurseJJ09

Just looking for some feedback. What is your opinion of having a new nurse (just off orientation) float on various med/surg tele floors? I've gotten lots of negative comments about it and I have to say I agree with most of... Read More


  1. 0
    floating is done when there is not sufficient staff to cover a unit. It is much cheaper to float an employee than to hire an agency nurse. Your license makes you a "generic" nurse who ought to be able to handle basic care. The charge nurse should take into consideration your experience (generally plus on this new unit). I doubt you will ever find a job in a hospital where floating never is done. BTW, the nurse who is more flexible is also more valuable.
  2. 1
    I think you are floating too soon; at our hospital you cannot float for three months after your orientation ends.

    However, although no one typically likes to float, I think floating is great for a couple of reasons.

    1) It's good to get out of your comfort zone. It keeps you alert and makes you think.

    2) It's good to see what other floors do: how they handle staffing assignments, what duties their charge nurse performs, how they interact with the docs, how they organize their floor, their time, their division of duties, etc.

    3) It's good to interact with those people, to see things from that floor's perspective. There can be a lot of animosity between units. If there were more floating between the units and the nurses would actually get to know each other, it could minimize this and increase a sense of teamwork. You learn to appreciate the hard work they do, and they learn to appreciate you and your hard work.

    4) It's nice to keep your skills up. I work on a medical floor. I hate floating, but I rarely have a bad night. Whether it's floating to ED, ICU, step-down, surgical, rehab, OB or peds, I always learn something, and it keeps me sharp. While I really don't like post-op patients, it is good for us to have to float to surgery, because on rare occasions we have to take surgical overflow patients. The floating keeps up our skills sets in other areas so that when we do receive a patient that technically should be in another unit, we can provide appropriate, safe care.

    5) You get a feel for other floors, other units. A lot of nurses start out on the medical or surgical floors, but ultimately wish to transfer somewhere else. If you are interested in the ED, when someone needs to go down there, you volunteer to float and then you try to knock them out with your skills, interest, and helpfulness. They will remember it, and it will help you get a job there later.

    6) I'd prefer to float or work extra shifts than have agency. While my experience with agency nurses themselves has been nothing but good, I honestly was resentful of the fact that they were making significantly more than I was. I'd rather make that money myself.

    Ultimately, I support the concept of floating, if it is done in a safe manner. I don't think new grads fresh off orientation should float. If you are fresh off orientation but have been a nurse in an acute care setting for a while and are comfortable with the idea, then sure. Everyone should have some sort of orientation to the unit, and the charge nurse should make sure to make contact with the float and let them know which nurse to go to as a resource.

    I don't think that people should float to somewhere way outside their comfort zone without certain accommodation. For example, most of our medical nurses, when they float to Mother/Baby, act more in the capacity of a super-aide. They take vitals, help with care, give meds, etc...but they have an OB/Mother/baby nurse do their assessments. On the surgical floor, they try to give their floats the less complex patients, or ones that are having a more medical issue.

    When I assign patients to float nurses on our floor, I generally try to assign the less complex patients. If I know I'm getting a surgical nurse and we have any possible surgical candidates or post-op patients, I'll given them those patients. If I'm getting a rehab nurse, I'll try to assign patients who will be heading to rehab in a day or two. If I'm getting an ICU nurse, I'll assign more complex patients, ones who might have been potential candidates for stepdown, or whose condition has been deteriorating and may in fact be headed over to step-down or ICU anyhow.

    I think if we view floating as an opportunity to help out our coworkers, hone some rusty skills, and a means of learning and growing, then it's not so bad. The receiving floor has to show their appreciation and be reasonable in their expectations, and the floating nurse needs to buck up and not cop an attitude. If done decently, I think floating is a good thing. Not that I don't groan when I'm the one to float...
    MedChica likes this.


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