Forced to float?

Specialties Ob/Gyn


I am curious - how many of you are forced to float off of L&D/PP/NSY to another floor when you have low census? So far, in 13 yrs I have only been forced to go to Peds a handful of times, but nowhere else. We are facing this issue for the first time on my present unit - it was a brand new LDRP unit when I arrived almost 2 yrs ago, and administration has pretty much left us alone until now. We are not being forced, but... our manager lets us know that at every administration meeting she is reminded that every other floor floats except us. There are enough L&D jobs out there so that I will NOT float, period, end of story, and I think my manager has made it pretty clear to our administration that is the general consensus of our nurses. Is this why we L&D nurses always get that primadonna label everywhere I've worked:confused:

But, all this recent hubbub at my job has got me wondering what the norm is elsewhere... so, do you or don't you?



28 Posts

I have a very vast experience for my 9 years...i ahve done it all...but when I float somewhere I dont feel comfortable, I tell them, I dont feel comfortable, but I will "task" which means I will do vitals, get water...etc...they are usually happy to get ANY help, and are usually agreeable to this.


7 Posts

At our hospital we do not float. We are a "closed" unit. That also means we don't get anyone floating to our unit.

I'm with you on refusing to float. I have experience in many areas of nursing but I just do not care to work any other area anymore - I've been in OB for the past 6 yrs.

I have worked in 6 different hospitals in 3 states in OB (did some travel nursing). Only 2 required L&D nurses to float. I left both of those positions for that reason.


6,620 Posts

I agree that I will only do tasks if I float. I just don't think it is safe to have a nurse who has been in L&D/PP for most of her career to float to med/surg or wherever (and vice versa). I don't feel that floating to a floor every once in a while is enough to maintain the skills needed on that floor. Especially the meds!!! The meds used on med/surg are completely different than L&D and I don't feel I have the time to look them all up and give them to 12 patients.


244 Posts

Originally posted by fergus51

I agree that I will only do tasks if I float. I just don't think it is safe to have a nurse who has been in L&D/PP for most of her career to float to med/surg or wherever (and vice versa). I don't feel that floating to a floor every once in a while is enough to maintain the skills needed on that floor. Especially the meds!!! The meds used on med/surg are completely different than L&D and I don't feel I have the time to look them all up and give them to 12 patients.

Were you not trained and proficent with the meds and Med/Surg back in school? Don't you have to take CEU's ? Are not all nurses actually Med/Surg just as all specialist start as generalsit? So why are you not keeping abreast of the foundation of nursing? Maybe it is to black and white for me as a LPN who only does Med/Surg pt.s usually the elderly, in a LTC. But I started on Neuro/Surg in a level 3 truama / teaching hospital, and I think that it is a deficit that specialist have allowed themselves to be unprepared and loose those skills. An example of "If you do not use it you loose it." at it's finest! :cool:


244 Posts

Originally posted by kday

Okay, then, Jami...and all of you who tout this thinking...we were all 'trained' to do OB in school as well...why don't all you med-surg nurses come down to labor and delivery and work a shift and take a laboring patient? After all, we all had labor and delivery in school...

Look, the med-surg people don't float to us because 'they don't do L&D,' yet we're required to float to them? I DON'T THINK SO. If I have to float to med-surg and take an assignment because "you were trained to do med-surg in school" and I should be 'keeping my skills up,' then I want a med-surg nurse to do the same thing. Hey, she should be 'keeping her skills up' and going to OB conferences...

We are forced to float, and I think it is an injustice, as NO ONE floats to us. No reciprocity. Why should a labor and delivery nurse be forced to float because 'she should be keeping up her skills' and a med-surg nurse gets to dodge labor and delivery because she 'has no training in that area?' It's total bull. If you're gonna force us to float using this logic, you should be prepared to float to US on the premise of the same argument.

Anytime any place as you know I will go to L&D, PP, Well Baby, or NICU. Get me in the door, LOL as a LPN that maybe hard to do!


83 Posts

Come on Jami, you know it's a little more involved than that. If providing good patient care is at the top of our list, than you know it's just not safe. I have met a few nurses along the way who just seem to be good at everything and very easily go from one floor to another, and more power to them! But do you or I want a nurse like me, who has only done L&D and Mother-Baby for 13 years, to take care of our mothers after a colostomy or hip surgery? Of course I can do basic pt care, but looking up all the meds alone would probably take me hours of what should be spent taking care of my patients, not to mention checking the P&P manual for every procedure I'm not familiar with, finding where everything is kept, etc etc. On the same token, would you want your daughter to be taken care of while she was in labor by someone who hasn't seen a fetal monitor strip in years?

Once upon a time, a nurse is a nurse is a nurse was probably a valid perception. But not these days. Unfortunately, administration usually can't see past the dollar signs to understand that.



33 Posts

I'm in the APU. I float to L&D (for APU patients. Some APU nurses take laboring patients, but I don't feel qualified and so am not required to do so), PPU and occasionally Med/Surg. I don't mind floating occasionally. It's nice for a change and I'm comfortable in those units. I would not like to float regularly as I like to have a 'home'. I don't go to the nursery at all. Don't like it and not qualified.


3 Posts

Hey kday, not everyone knows what it is like to want/need help but can't get it because no one will come because they don't do OB. Hey, they only know that if they need help and ask for it, they get it. That is their picture. BUT the fact is we get our buns burned a lot of times when we are full and are drowning. That is when we hear from the supervisor "I can't help you". Anytime, come and care for my labor patient who is screaming for her epidural (cause she is the only one who has ever hurt before), push for 2+hours with a primip, get jumped on by docs cuz you don't do a pit drip fast enough, etc. Don't forget to study your fetal monitoring!!


6,620 Posts

Thanks for defending my point of view KDAY.

Jami I will not float to med surg because as far as I am concerned that is a specialty like any other. They have a different group of meds, different dxs, etc. While I do CEUs, they are in the field of L&D or PP or antepartum because that's where I work. Saying I was trained in school is ridiculous. I was on med surg floors, sure, but would you want to have a nurse looking after you who hadn't done med/surg for years? (also I should point out my med/surg rotations only comprised about 18 weeks of my clinical time). How can that nurse be expected to be as knowledgeable about medications and conditions? It's shortchanging the patient who deserves a nurse who knows the area. I also did an ICU rotation in school, but I don't feel that that makes me competent to work there now, do you?

Like I said, I will help out the nurses by doing vitals, dressing changes, caths, IVs, calling docs, doing baths, admits and discharges, etc. That frees up a lot of their time (so they only have to do the assessments and meds which I do not feel comfortable doing) while keeping the patients safe. Believe me there is no shortage of tasks for me to do.


6,620 Posts

By the way, what is the benefit to me keeping up skills in an area I will never work in?

I absolutely hated med/surg in school and worked the bare minimum in that area while waiting for a spot to come up in L&D. Now that I have experience in L&D, PP, AP, and plan on working in that area for the rest of my career, why do I need to keep up on medications I will never give and procedures I will never do? For the chance that I will be floated once a month to a floor I don't like working on? It's not worth it to me. I will just be honest and say that I am not willing to take a pt. load. It's better than those nurses who accept unsafe assignments and bitch about it later. I just don't feel like I have to work anywhere I don't want to if I don't feel safe there.


2,259 Posts

Specializes in LDRP; Education.
Originally posted by kday

Good God, Jami. Your lack of logic just astounds me.

Number one, once you realize that 'taking care of' a laboring patient often involves LOTS more than doula-like duties, stuff that you have NO training in, I doubt seriously you'd feel comfortable coming to a labor and delivery unit to take a regular assignment and function as a full staff member WITHOUT ANY TRAINING OR're just FLOATING.

Number two, the FACT is that 99.9% of nurses who aren't in the perinatal areas would FREAK if asked to float to L&D and take a full assignment. They get to balk and dodge ever getting floated to us because they're 'not trained.' I get NO such grace, and neither do my colleagues. We're just supposed to suck it up and do it because we're 'all med-surg trained in school,' yet when labor and delivery is DROWNING and in desperate need of assistance, we have to COVER OURSELVES WITH OUR OWN STAFF because NO ONE WILL FLOAT TO US. THAT, my dear, is the PROBLEM. Get it?

Ugh. You know, I'm getting quite sick of this bb...lots of ILLOGICAL people here....

Kristina, you said it all very well.

We are a closed unit - which I think is just fine. I personally could not and should not float to any other unit. Labor and Delivery is too specialized for me to now function safely in any other environment without proper training. Just as well, most nurses freak when even thinking about taking a laboring patient. I think Jami, you aught to shadow a L&D nurse for a shift, and then see if you change your mind. I for one am so sick of the constant notion that L&D nurses just give pain meds and yell "push." It's these same nurses that think this way that also run out the door as soon as there is a crash C-section, heart tones in the 50's, or severe shoulder dystocia. Gimme a break.

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