The Pros and Cons of a Float Position While Travel Nursing

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, September 17, 2020

float positions

Many nurses turn to travel nursing as a departure from the norm — something new and exciting that allows them to grow. Float positions take this concept one step further. In addition to a new facility and new faces, float positions put travel nurses in the position to experience something new each and every day. Today you’re in progressive care, tomorrow you’re in medical-surgical. There’s a myriad of opportunities and never a dull moment. But, like all choices, nurses need to weigh the pros and cons of a float position before they jump into one.

Understanding float positions

Although most travel nurses understand the general idea of floating, the float positions available can vary drastically depending on the health system and state. A float position at one facility might take you to different units within a single location, while a different position might have you reporting to multiple facilities within a city.

A float nurse’s schedule might be different, too. You might work the same days over the course of your assignment, or you might have a different schedule, week to week. Because of these differences, it’s important that you get a full understanding of the position’s requirements before accepting or turning down a float job. This will ensure you’re comfortable with the level of change required over the course of your assignment.

Even if you don’t sign up to be a float nurse exclusively, you might still be floated during your assignment. A facility might decide to float travel nurses to similar units within their scope of practice if their contracted unit is experiencing low census.

pros and cons

Is a float position right for you?

Being a float nurse can come with benefits, but it also can have a few drawbacks. It’s important for travel nurses to consider the pros and cons to determine whether floating is an ideal position for them. A few benefits of floating are:

  • Wider breadth of experience: Float nurses work within their scope of practice, but moving between units can give them a wider breadth of experience they might otherwise miss when working in a single unit.
  • New situations every day: As a float nurse, you’re likely to be sent to different units every shift, giving you the opportunity to experience new things. And, if you have a bad shift, you’re unlikely to have the same one the next day!
  • Consistently challenging: Many nurses love float positions because they keep them out of their comfort zone. Adapting to new units, facilities, and teams can help you become more adaptable and grow as a nurse.

Some nurses might not prefer floating because of a few key drawbacks:

  • Prone to last-minute changes: Float nurses need to be flexible and adaptable. Their schedules can change on a whim, and they might be sent to one location after planning to report to another.
  • Lack of deep experience: Although floating can expose you to a breadth of experience, it may not allow nurses to develop deep experience in one particular area.
  • New team members: Shifting to new units or facilities exposes you to new team members often. This may prevent nurses from developing close relationships with coworkers.

The future of float nursing

Float positions are on the rise for nurses as facilities seek ways to manage changing patient populations and staffing shortages. For nurses who are comfortable floating, this could present more opportunities.

Additionally, float positions may require nurses with more experience or a wider range of nursing skillsets. If you’re interested in a float position, now might be a great time to expand your training and certifications.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a float position or have experience as a float nurse, Health Providers Choice can help you find a position. We frequently place our nurses in float positions where they have access to broad experience and new opportunities! Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.