Healthcare News & Insights

Floating fixed nurses: Strategies that work

One key to a positive patient experience is a low nurse-to-patient ratio. But as you know, patient volumes fluctuate. So how can you keep nurses busy, but not so busy that patient care suffers? Floating fixed nurses.

But hospitals have to be careful because while some nurses like floating between units, others don’t.

That’s OK. Not every nurse has to be a floater.

And while it would be ideal to have floating nurses that could work anywhere in the hospital whenever you needed them, that is often difficult to implement and can cause burn out.

Cluster units

Many hospitals have experienced positive results by creating a cluster-unit structure for their floating fixed nurses, according to the Advisory Board Company. This is where two to three similar units are grouped together and nurses are only required to float among them.

This is good because it creates less stress for the nurses in two ways:

  • Floating amongst similar units means the patients and their conditions are similar, and
  • Working across the same two to three units allow the nurses to build a camaraderie and not feel like an outsider when they are floating.

It also saves hospitals’ resources because they have to spend less time on training these nurses, since the cluster units are similar.

Layer floaters

While the cluster-unit structure works on a day-to-day basis the majority of the time, there are instances when it’s all hands on deck and extra floaters are needed. In such cases, it’s often helpful to have an additional layer of floating nurses called “super-floaters.”

Typically, this only needs to be a small group of nurses who can float to any unit in the hospital wherever and whenever they’re needed.

While this type of floating isn’t for most nurses, there are some people who thrive on change.

Participation in the super-floater group should be seen as an honor with only the cream-of-the-crop nurses being asked to participate and receiving special training.

Of course additional compensation should be given to those who are skilled enough and willing to take on this kind of responsibility. But don’t worry, this won’t be a big financial burden because this group is only used occasionally.

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