If you’re thinking about becoming a travel nurse, it is important to consider the good and the bad. You will have many perks including higher pay, great experience, and traveling to new areas, but you may also be asked about floating during a travel assignment. This is especially true in areas impacted by winter weather and the pandemic.
When you float, you’re asked to move from one department to another for coverage. A common one is from ICU to a stepdown unit, but it’s not always like that. You may be working in other areas of the hospital, making it important to stay in touch with your on-site manager as well as your AB Staffing recruiter. You will need to keep them in the loop so they understand what is happening and can address any concerns.
As a floater during a travel assignment, you may be sent to another unit to cover shifts, breaks, and shortages in other areas of the facility. The reason is that hospitals are required by federal and state requirements to have a certain number of nurses per patient. While it can be challenging, the work can also be rewarding, especially if you like a new experience on a regular basis. For others, it can be a struggle. In this article, we offer tips for success when you have to float.
Floating During a Travel Assignment
As a travel nurse, it is common to be asked to be a floater. This will likely happen more if you are in a private or commercial hospital as compared to a federal facility. Every hospital has a different policy, so make sure to ask your recruiter before taking the contract. They should be able to give you an idea of how often it will happen at that specific facility. If you accept a contract and are asked to float and don’t want to, there may be little we can do except move you to another facility at the end of your contract.
Will there be an orientation for your new unit?
It’s likely there will not be an orientation and you will be learning on the job. While some travel nurses love the challenge, others may find it frustrating. Either way, it will be important to ask questions, pay attention, and stay calm. Follow the lead of the other nurses and take advantage of the learning experience.
When will you be asked to float?
It’s likely you will be asked to float at the beginning of your shift, to cover an area in need of help whether due to a patient-to-nurse ratio or a nurse shortage. It is probable you will stay in that unit for your entire shift.
How does a hospital choose where to send a floater?
They will, or should, send you to a unit that is similar to your skills and experience. They are unlikely to send a labor and delivery nurse to ICU as those are opposite ends of the spectrum but if you’re an ICU nurse, you may be sent to Med Surg or similar.
You should never be asked to work on a unit where you do not understand the basics. Once you arrive, observe all that you can. Our nurses tell us they often learn something they can bring to their unit or improve a process as they observe others. If you’re not comfortable where you are moved, speak to your supervisor and recruiter. Your patients and your license should never be at risk.
Is the pay different when you float?
In general, travel nurse pay is higher than staff nurses When you are asked to float during your shift, your pay will be the same as in your department. There are separate opportunities to be a float pool nurse and they generally are paid higher rates receive an average of 15% more than their permanent counterparts. Work with your recruiter to negotiate a contract that makes sense for you, your family, and your skills and experience.
What to do if you feel floating is getting excessive?
Your recruiter is your advocate, so we always encourage you to speak to them. If something seems unfair about what you are doing on any travel assignment, communicate it so that we can offer guidance to resolve the issue. We never want you or your license to be at risk.
When you’re floating during a travel assignment, communication with your on-site team and AB Staffing recruiter is key to your success. The experience of floating can prove to be educational, expanding your skills and experience.