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Is there a line floating?

Nurses   (4,870 Views | 26 Replies)

applesxoranges is a BSN, RN and specializes in ER.

15,599 Profile Views; 2,241 Posts

So a place that I know about likes to float their ICU nurses. Apparently they are now floating them to specialty units such as OB, psych, and ER along with the standard stepdown and med-surg. Is there a line when it comes to floating? If the nurse is not specifically crosstrained in the charting style and does not have previous OB or psych experience, should they be forced to go to the specialty units to take on patients? One nurse was told that four post c-section patients were the same as med-surg patients (I do not think that they got the babies since four patients + babies seem like a lot, but I may be wrong and I do not know how many days post-op they were). The nurse supposedly was yelled at for trying to report it as unsafe since she never received crosstraining as an OB nurse nor did she have previous experience.

I would flip out if I was sent to work in OB or psych. Those two are specialty units.

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Nurse SMS has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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I would decline to float to a place I felt unsafe. Safe Harbor or just refusing to take report. It is my right to refuse. It is their right to deny me employment based on my refusal.

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applesxoranges is a BSN, RN and specializes in ER.

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Yeah. I am glad that I got out before they made it too bad.

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cayenne06 has 10 years experience as a MSN, CNM and specializes in Reproductive & Public Health.

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Yikes. When we have to send our OB patients to ICU (VERY rare, thank science), we still go down to do OB-specific assessments.

Obviously ICU nurses are more than able to take care of ANY patient- they are smart, quick thinking and good at making split second decisions. But you cannot care for a patient that you are not trained to care for. OB and psych are two very specific specialties and floating to those units seems very unsafe.

I'm an LDRP nurse and when they float us to other units, we *only* do things like sitting and providing ADL type care. I have never worked in any other speciality than OB (not even as a new nurse) and I would be very uncomfortable caring for even a straightforward med/surg patient.

As an aside, in retrospect I wish I would have followed the old adage to get my feet wet in med/surg. Oh well.

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1 Follower; 2,650 Posts; 38,465 Profile Views

If there is a line they have crossed, IMHO.

I personally would not accept patients who required specialty nursing care that was outside of my experience and ability to safely provide.

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Karou has 1 years experience and specializes in Med-Surg.

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There is a line. As a medical-surgical nurse, I would refuse to float ICU, ED, L&D or NICU/nursery. Unless in those units they could find patients acceptable for me to care for, which means those patients probably don't belong in those areas anyway. If I were to float to cardiac or a telemetry floor, I still can't take patients with certain cardiac drips.

Unless you are competent with those kinds of patients, you shouldn't be floating there. ICU nurses are probably better equipped to float to a larger variety of areas, but that doesn't mean they are the best person to float to those units. I mean unless they have L&D or neonatal experience, then that wouldn't be somewhere I would expect them to go. They also may not feel comfortable taking six med surg patients. It's a different flow even though the patients are not as acute.

I'd be looking into your facility policy on floating. We also can't float any new nurses ( less than 6 months experience).

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192 Posts; 8,374 Profile Views

In my opinion, hospitals should have a "cluster" of similar and/or appropriate units that are fair game for floating. ICUs, tele, med-surg, etc. It's really the best approach for safe patient care.

The hospital I work for doesn't float ICU nurses to the floors or vice versa, but has very few restrictions otherwise.

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Caffeine_IV has 7 years experience and specializes in LTC, med/surg, hospice.

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There should be a line. The policies at my current facility would be that you only float to sister units. The ICU nurses can float between the various ICUS (surgical, neuro, and cardiac). L&D nurses could do mom/baby. And if they float you outside of your sister unit, they should handpick the patients to be something suitable to your ability.

At my first job, ICU nurses could come to the floor (med/surg, tele) but only take 4 patients max. We (medical nurses) were floated everywhere except ER. In the ICU I would get a stable patient that would likely be moved to the floor the following day.

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The nurse supposedly was yelled at for trying to report it as unsafe since she never received crosstraining as an OB nurse nor did she have previous experience.
This site talks a lot about people not doing things within their scope of practice and are usually wrong about what that means, but this is actually a scope of practice issue if she has not had mental health or OB training then that particular branch of nursing isn't in her scope of practice. In NZ it actually says on your registration card that you have a restriction to work in that area if you haven't had that training. For example, there are lots of nurses that did the old style hospital training that didn't have a mental health aspect and these nurses have a mental health restriction on their license.

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Nurse SMS has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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I work on stepdown and occasionally ICU nurses get floated to us. They hate it. They want to provide ICU level care...on 4-5 patients. It is one beat down of a day for those ladies. We get floated to ICU and given 3 patients. Pretty unsafe in both cases.

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2 Followers; 14,620 Posts; 106,220 Profile Views

This site talks a lot about people not doing things within their scope of practice and are usually wrong about what that means, but this is actually a scope of practice issue if she has not had mental health or OB training then that particular branch of nursing isn't in her scope of practice. In NZ it actually says on your registration card that you have a restriction to work in that area if you haven't had that training. For example, there are lots of nurses that did the old style hospital training that didn't have a mental health aspect and these nurses have a mental health restriction on their license.

But the US trains and licenses all nurses as generalists, and we all had basic, entry level education in psych, peds, OB, etc.

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This is one of the reasons I'm glad I'm no longer floor nursing. That said, I never had the experience of such an abundance of ICU nurses that they were regularly floated anywhere. On occasion, and that was an unusual occasion, we might see an ICU nurse on our med-surg unit. Those were difficult shifts for everyone involved, as the ICU float was not accustomed to having 5 patients on days and 6-7 patients on an evening shift (welcome to the Norm on our med-surges) and therefore struggled mightily with keeping up on medications, treatments, charting, etc. Typically they were quite far behind by the time they were due to report to the night shift. Which, naturally, made for a hellish night for that last shift nurse, who was receiving not just those patients but probably one or two more, and perhaps an admission. Bad for all, but on rare occasions it's what happened because of staffing issues.

All the med-surg units (several, with various specialty emphases) floated among themselves. They were, in a sense, cross-training nurses to work in all the med-surges; unit-specific things like vents and stroke scales were handled as they came up, and it worked out.

Now, if you took a med-surg nurse and sent him/her to OB, that nurse was expected to be 'helping hands': NOT an assignment. After all, it was NOT something they were competent in, newborn care and postpartum care of obviously detailed specialty areas that unless you WORK in them, simply having passed the NCLEX umpteen years before will not sufficiently prepare you for such an assignment. I would not want someone who had only a nursing school education HOW many years ago as the basis for an unassisted float and assignment out of their comfort zone, such as OB or peds. And PSYCH? Seriously, no. Never.

ED and ICU had requirements; in order to be "cleared" for such a float, an RN had to have been there long enough, taken on such assignments, been floated enough times, to demonstrate an ability to handle those areas with minimal oversight. Frankly, there were never really enough ICU staff to babysit new nurses so they could only take someone in who could take one, perhaps two patients off their hands for a shift. I did this pretty regularly BUT also never got an admission, as those were much more involved than my own med-surg admissions, and it was more appropriate to give the patients and not the paperwork :)

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