Become a Better Nurse by Floating

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, May 06, 2021 Posted in On the Job

floating nurse

As a travel nurse, you’re almost destined for the float pool at some point in your career. As temporary staff, it’s easy to plug-and-play travel nurses where they’re needed most. Still, many travel nurses dread the float pool and find themselves agonizing over assignments in departments they’re unfamiliar with or don’t prefer. The good news is it doesn’t need to be this way. Learning to embrace the float pool can put nurses on the track to growing their skills and making the most of their career.

Adaptation is key for successful floating

If your assignment facility decides to float you, you’re placed in a different unit or facility than usual for a shift. You might even encounter the float pool, which is when you’re consistently floated between units to cover for nurses who are out.

It’s not merely the idea of working in a different unit that scares some travel nurses. Floating requires you to learn about processes and procedures for an area of medicine you might not be as familiar with, simply because you haven’t worked it consistently — and learn about it fast. Float nurses need to be able to pick up details and information on the fly in order to deliver great patient care. While the implications of floating can be intimidating, they also provide ample opportunities for nurses who are eager to learn and grow.

The key to floating successfully is adaptation. Nursing as a whole requires some level of quick thinking and adaptation, but jumping into unfamiliar units is generally more challenging. That’s why it’s important for float nurses to retain control over things that they can, such as good nursing habits and routines. Even if you don’t know where you’ll be working for a shift, you’ll have a comfortable system to fall back on.

For example, consider establishing a pre-shift ritual to ground yourself and get ready for work. This routine can help you get in the right mindset so you’re more prepared for any surprises the shift will bring.

Introducing processes and routines into other departments can help floating nurses adapt. For instance, creating standards for doing rounds or identifying key personnel, locating necessary supplies, and familiarizing yourself with the unit layout upon the start of your shift helps to ease anxiety. When you’re in an unfamiliar environment, these habits and routines provide a sense of calm and familiarity.

nurse float pool

Dive into the float pool

The reality for many travel nurses is that floating is bound to happen at some point during your assignment. Understanding this from the start can help you accept the inevitable and focus more on attaining the right mindset toward floating. You can ask about floating during your interview, to be sure you understand the expectations and are prepared for the assignment.

With a positive outlook, floating can be a great opportunity for nurses in all specialties. Whether you’re a new nurse or you have years of experience, floating gives you the chance to encounter new challenges, learn new things, and develop stronger, more diverse skillsets. Rather than view floating as a chore or inconvenience, welcome it as a new learning experience that will make you a better nurse.

Do you have questions about floating while on assignment? Your Health Providers Choice recruiter can answer them. We’re here to help make sure your experience while on assignment is the best it can be. Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800 to learn more about working with Health Providers Choice.

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.