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Force to change unit in the middle of shift

Nurses   (4,781 Views 46 Comments)
by Anon143 Anon143 (Member)

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN.

917 Likes; 11 Followers; 64 Articles; 168,805 Visitors; 13,721 Posts

It's floating, and it's covered under the ever-popular "and other duties as assigned" part of your job description. You cannot be FORCED to go at gunpoint, but than can terminate your employment for refusing. I don't know if they would, but they could. I refused to float once in 1981. I worked on an oncology floor, and an RN was needed to float to the MICU to do charge. They had an LPN, an NA and two agency nurses there and needed a permanent RN to do charge. I was a fairly new grad, but I knew I didn't know anything about invasive monitoring or rhythms. In no way was I qualified to float to MICU. The supervisor told me I'd be fired if I didn't go. "I'd rather lose my job," I told her, "than my license." She responded that it would be her license, not mine, since she was making the decision to float me to the MICU. I stood my ground and in the end, a diploma grad (from the hospital's own school) who was newer than I was agreed to do the float. She had done a clinical rotation there and probably knew way more about it than I did.

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and works as a Retired/Disabled Nurse and Blogger.

336 Likes; 8 Followers; 141 Articles; 247,028 Visitors; 9,526 Posts

As others have noted, an employer can definitely float a nurse to a different unit, and let you go if you refuse the assignment. Some nurses absolutely HATE floating, while others of us enjoy it. I once went to four different units in one shift; started out on Med/Surg, then went to the ED to interpret for a Hispanic farm worker with crush injuries. Later I was sent back to M/S (with a different group of patients, of course) and finally finished the shift on the mother/baby unit. Whew! And we didn't have EMR back in those days, which made real-time charting a necessity.

I'm sure it's harder when you dislike floating, but really, there's not a whole lot you can do about it when you're required to do so. It's best to keep in mind that you're there for 12 hours and it really doesn't matter what you're doing for those hours as long as you're getting paid. It's different if you're assigned to a group of patients you're not trained or qualified to care for; that you can protest in the interest of patient safety. But being sent to another unit is just par for the course, and it would behoove you to learn about the other units in the hospital that you might be floated to.

Good luck to you.

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RainMom has 7 years experience.

4 Likes; 23,378 Visitors; 1,078 Posts

Yep, happens often. I didn't mind it too much when I worked the floor, but now that I am in pre-op & PACU, it bothers me a little. I still work prn shifts (very occasionally, once every month or two) on the floor, so rather than giving a low census day to someone in my dept, I get floated. But it's always me or one other nurse; the others haven't worked the floor in decades. Sometimes I end up being placed on call for the floor because their census doesn't call for me & I end up staying home, not needed, & lose hrs although by dates, it should have been a different nurse in my periop dept forced off.

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zoidberg has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN.

13 Likes; 6,385 Visitors; 243 Posts

I let my patients know another nurse Ms XYZ will be coming by as I am needed on another floor, I get report in the new floor and start over as if I was just coming on shift and if I do not get things done the next nurse can pick up where I left off..

:inlove: those words are what make a float nurse swoon

If only more people had this attitude.

I do try to have everything tied up with a bow and some ativan for the next shift, but crap happens!

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Kallie3006 has 6 years experience as a ADN and works as a Jack of all trades, master of none.

91 Likes; 4,894 Visitors; 321 Posts

I have been floated to 3 units within 4 hours, that was horrible, they tried to float me back to the original unit in the end but I called the house supervisor and said that I have taken report on 15 patients so far and given report on 10, someone else needed to go, stinking ridiculous.

I used to work float pool and loved the diversity and increased knowledge set acquired. So even when I get floated from my home unit now, I'm comfortable and competent to take the different patient set.

I try to go in with the thought that if this was my unit that was so short wouldn't I want to welcome someone that came to help, even if they didn't have a choice. You can either get bitter and have a black cloud from it, or take it as an opportunity to learn new skills, establish a rapport with other unit staff and grow more in your practice. The wider your practice experience is the more marketable you are if the need arises to find other employment

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21 Likes; 1 Follower; 3,946 Visitors; 170 Posts

It's unfortunate but I do four hours in 2 different units for my 8 hour shift on a fairly regular basis.; 1-2 times a month, & on rare occasion 3 times a month. The worst I've had as a nurse is 3 units in 12 hours, 1st four in ICU, 2nd four on cardiac step down, last 4 in CVICU. Getting & giving report and charting on that many patients is ridiculous and since every place I walked into had a truckload of work to be done in a short period of time, and two of the units I had never worked on, it was mentally and physically exhausting. So, I do understand your upset. However, unless it's explicitly against your hospitals policy I don't think there is anything to do about it. Also, I've never worked anywhere you could refuse to float (to units you were considered qualified for) without repercussions. :/

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29 Likes; 1,220 Visitors; 119 Posts

It's floating, and it's covered under the ever-popular "and other duties as assigned" part of your job description. You cannot be FORCED to go at gunpoint, but than can terminate your employment for refusing. I don't know if they would, but they could. I refused to float once in 1981. I worked on an oncology floor, and an RN was needed to float to the MICU to do charge. They had an LPN, an NA and two agency nurses there and needed a permanent RN to do charge. I was a fairly new grad, but I knew I didn't know anything about invasive monitoring or rhythms. In no way was I qualified to float to MICU. The supervisor told me I'd be fired if I didn't go. "I'd rather lose my job," I told her, "than my license." She responded that it would be her license, not mine, since she was making the decision to float me to the MICU. I stood my ground and in the end, a diploma grad (from the hospital's own school) who was newer than I was agreed to do the float. She had done a clinical rotation there and probably knew way more about it than I did.

Really scary that the nursing sup doesn't know it would be YOUR license not hers...

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Rose_Queen is a BSN, MSN, RN and works as a Staff nurse educator.

345 Likes; 4 Followers; 4 Articles; 102,411 Visitors; 8,561 Posts

Really scary that the nursing sup doesn't know it would be YOUR license not hers...

Actually, improper delegation/assignment could become a licensing issue for the nursing sup.

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NurseSpeedy has 18 years experience as a ADN, LPN, RN and works as a Nurse.

71 Likes; 17,196 Visitors; 1,298 Posts

I've spent a 12 hour shift on three separate units, had three full groups of patients, and had to chart shift assessments, pass all their meds, and do any other care routinely scheduled. Plus there was the bedside report on each patient before and after each four hour segment. These were the days that I would cring at the idea of being scheduled to work the next few days in a row because it drained me.

Then I would get an email asking why I clocked out 30 minutes late.....I never did hit send button to my reply email. Management didn't have the nerve to ask me to my face either when I didn't respond.

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Jedrnurse has 25 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a school nurse.

477 Likes; 10,877 Visitors; 1,048 Posts

It's unfortunate but I do four hours in 2 different units for my 8 hour shift on a fairly regular basis.; 1-2 times a month, & on rare occasion 3 times a month. The worst I've had as a nurse is 3 units in 12 hours, 1st four in ICU, 2nd four on cardiac step down, last 4 in CVICU. Getting & giving report and charting on that many patients is ridiculous and since every place I walked into had a truckload of work to be done in a short period of time, and two of the units I had never worked on, it was mentally and physically exhausting. So, I do understand your upset. However, unless it's explicitly against your hospitals policy I don't think there is anything to do about it. Also, I've never worked anywhere you could refuse to float (to units you were considered qualified for) without repercussions. :/

There's a big difference between floating and being asked to essentially do almost twice the work, i.e. two or more assignments in a shift...

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