Floating? I need your comments!

Nurses Safety


Hello, all,

I'm putting together a best practice presentation for my hospital staff, and I'm collecting nurses's thoughts about floating. If you could, please respond with a one- or two-sentence answer to the following scenario:

"You come in for your usual shift, and you've been asked to float to another unit. Although this unit has patients of similar acuity level, it's been quite some time since you've cared for the types of patients assigned to this unit (e.g., you work on the neuro floor and you're floated to tele or you work in med-surg and are assigned to ortho). What are your immediate thoughts and concerns about this assignment?"

Thank you!

Who's is going to be responsible for any problems that come up in the shift that I can't handle?

Immediate thoughts: I don't like the fish-out-of-water feeling. I'll probably have to depend on others at some point during this shift.

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PACU.

Who will be my resource person if I need help?

Specializes in O.R., ED, M/S.

In our hospital all units have assigned "float clusters". For example the OR, where I work, is clustered only to L&D for cases they can't handle such as an emergency hyster after delivery. ICU only clusters with the ER and vice versa. So in hospitals that are larger and have many different units such as Neuro, Ortho, Step-Down and so forth one would have to be pretty proficient in those areas. A nurse is just not a nurse because they have a license. So one would have to feel comfortable and not be pushed into something they can't handle. Be very careful in excepting assignments just because you are told to do so.

I understand the issues with floating, which my best practice addresses. As part of my presentation, I'd like to provide our administrators with some comments from "real" nurses that relay their emotions/attitude toward floating, positive or negative.

Also, it's interesting to me that the first three comments involve "who": who can I go to for help, who is responsible if problems arise, who can I depend on.

Good stuff! This will certainly help with the content of my presentation.

i would think, "oh, great. i'm going to get stuck with the load nobody else wants."

i used to work on a unit where one of us would have to float pretty much every shift. NOBODY ever wanted to be the one to go. we were supposed to take turns, but it almost never happened that way. if it was the person's turn who was best friends with the charge nurse then the charge nurse would have some reason that that person couldn't go. it's one of the many reasons i quit that job. i hated the floor i got floated to and i was just about working on that floor more than i was the one i was hired for.

I'm a float pool CNA in nursing school and my first thoughts every nights are:Who is responsible for what (eg q4 vitals, chemsticks, post op vitals)?Where is everything I'll need?

Specializes in Intensive Care Unit.
Immediate thoughts: I don't like the fish-out-of-water feeling. I'll probably have to depend on others at some point during this shift.


Specializes in Pedi.

Immediate thought?: FML. ;)

Specializes in ICU.

I pray I have a good CNA, because they have always been the ones to make or break a float for me.

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