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Who You’ll Hear

Kati Kleber, MSN RN – Nurse educator, former cardiac med-surg/stepdown and neurocritical care nurse, author, and speaker.

Elizabeth Mills, BSN RN CCRN – highly experienced neurocritical care nurse, current Stroke Navigator for a Primary Stroke Center

Melissa Stafford, BSN RN CCRN SCRN – highly experienced and currently practicing nationally certified neurocritical care nurse.

What You’ll Learn

  • Floating
    • What is it
    • How they pick
    • How to treat others
  • Tips for floating
  • Be the change you want to see

Tips for Floating to Another Unit

Welcome to Season 4 of the FreshRN Podcast. Join us as we discuss some tips for floating to another unit. We cover how to start out your shift with success in a different environment, questions to ask, how to manage your nerves, and more.

Floating As A Nurse

What is floating?

  • You come to work on your unit, and there are not enough patients to justify that amount of nurses. Another unit might not have enough nurses, so they share the wealth.

How do they pick who floats?

  • Typically, you take turns.
  • PRN staff may be the first ones to float, depending on policy
  • Normally you will stay within your current service line.
    • So a labor and delivery nurse might not go to neuro ICU
  • If you are put somewhere that is totally foreign to you, you have the right to speak up and say “I don’t feel comfortable because I don’t understand this role very well.”

Communicate your anxieties: What about floating is making you nervous?

  • Patient population
  • Not knowing where things are
  • No knowledge about how to do tasks on this floor
  • Not knowing how to find a medication

How to treat people floating to your unit:

  • With a welcoming attitude
  • Be grateful
  • Say “thank you” to them
  • Check in on them and help them find things

Nurse Floating Tips

What to do when you are assigned as a floating nurse.

Go with a positive attitude

  • If you are a new nurse, you shouldn’t have to float until 6 months after orientation
  • If you feel uneasy or unsure, communicate it, and try to help out as much as you can.

At the beginning of the shift, get a tour and find someone to be your support

  • After the tour find a friendly face and ask them, “hey can you be my go-to person?”

Speak up and ask a lot of questions

  • Reiterate to your lead nurse any questions you have.
  • You can’t just have your head down and check the tasks off.
    • Example: what’s normal and good for a neuro patient isn’t always normal and good for a cardiac patient.
  • Ask what is normal for that unit, it might be different than what is normal in your unit.

Check your orders

  • You are working with patients you aren’t used to working with at a different part in their stay.
    • There should be “notify MD” parameters
    • Ask questions but always go to the chart and pay extra close attention.

Speak Up

  • If you aren’t getting help from the unit that you are floating to, notify your nursing supervisor.
  • You’ll have to give specific information, but let people know if you aren’t getting the right support.

Give yourself some credit

  • Have faith in yourself
    • You are a good nurse, or you wouldn’t be out of orientation
    • Always trust your gut.

Use it as a learning experience

  • Take this as a chance to learn something new
  • You never know when you are going to pick up something new that might help you with your home unit.

Be the Change You Want to See

Make floating a positive experience for yourself and others.

  • Have a positive attitude when you float.
  • When you have a floating nurse in your unit, be kind and supportive.
  • If you are making assignments to floating nurses, don’t give them bad assignments.
  • If you are floating and discover you have downtime, offer to help the other nurses that are feeling frantic or too busy.

More Resources on Floating to another Unit: