Float nurses are registered nurses who specialize in floating from unit to unit, moving to whichever unit has staffing shortages. They play an essential role in delivering safe patient care across all units and often solve staffing challenges. Float nursing is perfect for nurses who enjoy flexible work schedules and a variety of clinical experience. Travel nurses are often ideal in these positions since they’re essentially the ultimate float nurse.
Jobs for float nurses are abundant on Vivian with positions available at prestigious facilities in states across the country.
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Float Nurse FAQs
What does a float nurse do?
Float nurses work in multiple areas and treat various types of patients each day. They generally have years of nursing experience with well-rounded nursing skills so they can hit the floor running, no matter which unit they’re assigned. Float nurse duties are very dynamic based on their patient assignments, which requires a multitude of nursing skills and quick adaptability. While their actual duties vary by facility and assigned unit, some basic duties they may perform include:
Providing patient care
Performing on-going clinical assessments
Recording patients’ vital signs
Documenting patient information relating to ongoing treatment
Reporting changes in condition to supervising nurse or physician
Administering medications and required treatments
Assisting with exams and procedures
Communicating with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare staff
Educating patients and families on diagnoses and treatments
Advocating for patients to ensure their safety
Where do float nurses work?
Nearly every hospital utilizes float nurses, so these facilities are their primary employers. Where they work within a hospital can greatly vary, even in a single shift. Hospital systems with multiple locations also may utilize a float pool that floats to different hospitals, as well as different units within each hospital. Float pool nurses usually cover med-surg and stepdown patients, while a critical care float pool cares for higher acuity patients.
Float nurses may be sent to various units, but they’re generally only sent to units in which they already have experience or units in which their acquired nursing skills easily transfer. However, they shouldn’t accept assignments so far outside their practice area that they can’t provide adequate care. This puts the patients’ safety and the nurse’s license at risk. For example, a nurse who previously only worked in the pediatric unit shouldn’t be assigned as a circulating nurse in the OR.
What skills make a good float nurse?
Good float nurses have a high degree of adaptability, flexibility, and nursing expertise that allow them to work in a variety of settings. They’re fast learners with sharp clinical assessment and communication skills. Because they work with an assortment of colleagues throughout a healthcare facility, they also have admirable teamwork skills. Highly competent float nurses work well under pressure, face new challenges head-on, and have excellent time management skills. Confidence, enthusiasm, resilience, and great interpersonal skills are other highly desirable traits in a good float nurse.
How to become a Travel Float Nurse
The first step towards a career as a travel float nurse is to become a registered nurse. At a minimum, this requires completing an associate degree in nursing, but many hospitals prefer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Graduates must complete the NCLEX-RN to become an RN and they’ll likely need Basic Life Support certification. Depending on the hospital and potential nursing roles, they may also need Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certification. Travel float nurse employers typically want applicants to have two or more years of float experience and some may require acute care experience.
How Much Do Float Nurse Jobs Pay?
Although every facility differs, it’s common for float nurses to earn higher hourly wages than nurses permanently assigned to a specific unit. For jobs available on Vivian as of Sunday, October 17th 2021, the average weekly salary for a Float Nurse is $3,451, but can pay up to $5,400 per week.