EP 163: Tips To Help You Survive Floating as a Nurse

Tips To Help You Survive Floating as a Nurse

Survive floating as a nurse? It’s possible! You may have heard the term “floating” from nurses one way or another. While this term seems new, it has been used by many nurses in the unit before. So what is it? 

The term floating is used for a registered nurse who fills the short-staffed unit. They are also sometimes called float pool nurses and can be seen working in any area of a health care facility.

A floating nurse is the “reassignment of staff from one nursing unit to another, based upon the patient census and acuities.” They are an essential part of the healthcare staff and help to ensure that all areas are adequately staffed. 

Hospitals consider this a positive solution for saving money through resource utilization. It continues to be a staffing practice in health care facilities throughout the country. If you happen to be a floating nurse, this episode is for you. 

Today we will talk about how to survive floating as a nurse. It’s another day in the office when you walk into your unit, and you look at the assignment sheet and discover you have been assigned to float to another department. How you respond to this news can make or break the assignment.

How to Survive Floating as a Nurse

Not every nurse needs to float but there are many hospital positions that you can enter that allow you to float. Most of the time, floating nurses pay well. It is also a good reason why many nurses join the float pool. It is even better if you are a travel nurse.

Floating is challenging to get used to. Sometimes, a little bit impossible. It is because many nurses are unfamiliar with how things work in different units. The new environment can also be overwhelming. But the good news is that many nurses thrive in this position, no matter where they are.

In some cases, nurses choose to float because they like the idea of helping out units that need nurses the most.

1. Remain Calm

Why are you taking me off my unit? The first thing when you realize you’re floating usually your mood changes but don’t feel like to world is ending. Positivity and confidence are the keys. Go to the floating unit with a positive attitude to be welcoming to the new unit.

It makes such a difference when you ground yourself in positivity. Knowing no matter what happens, this shift will end and I will provide great patient care. This attitude will also set the mood for how your shift will go.

A lot of times floating nurses face unfamiliarity. This unfamiliarity may result in losing their confidence. Don’t forget you studied for over 4 years + to get your degree. Being in the position you’re in today, or the number of years of experience you have under your belt.

Start that positive self-talk with yourself. Remember, as a nurse you know what you have to do to take care of your patients. You’re good enough to be in the position that you’re in. Keeping calm and gathering your thoughts before working can also help.

2. Ask questions/learn the unit preferences

The best way to figure out the unit protocols or fit in is by asking what they do and why. After the huddle, go introduce yourself to the charge nurse.  Tell her you’re floating from another floor. If possible, ask if she can show you around the important thing you need to know about the unit. 

Remember, don’t hesitate or be afraid to ask questions. You have the whole shift to do that. Ask as many questions as you can so you are familiar with how the unit works.

  • Where is the medication room?
  • Do you have access to the pyxis?
  • Where is the supply room?
  • Are there standard charting or orders for this unit?
  • Where is the equipment room?
  • Where is the nutrition room?

Unit Routines

  • There might be different standing orders or charting protocol
  • Rhythm strips, pt weights
  • Specific handoff reports?
  • Specific medications to be signed off?
  • Accuchecks in the morning, are you covering the insulin

3. Speak up

No one knows if you don’t know something or if you’re struggling. Like any relationship communication is key. If you’re having a busy shift because you spent a lot of time getting yourself familiar with the unit, speak up. Make your needs known, most of the time everyone is helpful. 

When floating from the ICU: you can’t do everything for every patient

  • This isn’t the ICU, you can’t do everything
  • Importance of time management
  • Give recommendations but ultimately its the physician’s call

This is All a Learning Experience

In the younger nursing days, we pray not to get floated. We still to this day prefer to work in our home unit, but we have a positive outlook when it comes down to floating. Being challenged is a good thing, new experiences are what creates growth. Don’t be stuck in your own bubble because you hinder your growth. 

You too can survive being a floating nurse, here’s what you need to know 👇

TIME STAMPS:

00:00 Intro
00:44 Plugs
01:55 Episode Introduction
03:41 Tip #1: Remain Calm
07:39 Tip #2: Ask Questions
09:13 Things to ask: Where is the medication and nutrition room?
11:03 Things to ask: Where are the supply room and the equipment room?
17:47 Tip #3: Speak up
22:44 Tip #4: This is All a Learning Experience
25:08 Shadowing other nurses to learn
27:34 Sometimes Floating is not always good times

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