Float Pool Nurses and Patient Care: Is Floating Causing You to Lose Nurses?

The healthcare system was placed under scrutiny and stress with the onslaught of the pandemic. As someone in charge of managing healthcare professionals, you may have seen numbers within the workforce gradually decrease as numbers of patients abruptly increase. Along with other practices to retain nurses, you may have resorted to creating more float pools.  

Float pools have been a tested method to continue providing for patients’ needs despite nurses’ dwindling count. While float pool nurses take the humble duty of aiding different pools of patients, they also have the need to receive proper care.  

In this article, we answer if float pools cause health organizations to lose nurses and what drives the situation. We also look into ways you can uplift nurses as they join float pools. However, let’s first look more closely at what a float pool nurse is and what caused the creation of more nurse float pools recently. 

The Current Trend: Nursing Shortage Propelling the Nursing Float Pools 

The nursing shortage continues to creep in with a high number of nurses leaving the healthcare industry. Nurses resign voluntarily due to the remaining problems of the pandemic. Additionally, the number of retirees exceeds the number of candidates entering nursing, which means more work for lesser manpower. Unfortunately, those left in their workplaces carry the burdens of increased assignments. 

As US News stated in an article, 40 percent of physicians are also already depressed pre-pandemic, and that number has only doubled today. Nurses, as they wrote, may amount to the same numbers. 

This chain of problems pushed employers to recalibrate their actions to retain nurses. One of these changes is the promotion of floating within the workspace. However, floating itself is a root of job dissatisfaction among nurses. Although it remains a nurse’s core duty, floating is a practice not everyone agrees to, and nurses have the freedom to refuse. This could lead to further manpower concerns with more resignations that can cripple the workforce. 

Do Float Pools Cause Healthcare Companies to Lose Nurses? 

Yes, float pools are one of the reasons why nurses leave. Although the rate of floating for nurses doubled in 2020 compared to before when the pandemic occurred, the outlook for it does not look promising. 

According to float nurses themselves, it has been a source of great fatigue,  For them, it presents a greater variety of practices to follow, patients to tend to, and other factors to consider in administering healthcare. In a 2021 survey conducted by the Royal College of Nursing, 60% of nursing staff asked admitted leaving their careers to find a more convenient job. 

Specifically, nurses find floating difficult because: 

How to Make Float Pool Nurses Stay 

While the current response of nurses to float pools is not looking bright, there are still ways to shift nurses’ perception to it that would make them stay. in this section.

1. Set a process that would ensure proper direction despite the nurses’ cross-functional roles.

As their employer, you can execute guidelines of float practice and communication between vital members (nurse-to-patient, nurse-to-colleague). Unexpected circumstances will still come, but when they do, nurses will be able to act accordingly and without delay. They will find it easy to be in float pools as there is a system you have created that can easily guide them.  

Here are a few examples of how to introduce an organized workflow system to float pool nurses. 

  • Create institutional floating guidelines to standardize work. 
  • Float nurses must be oriented before their rotation away from their home units. 
  • Carry out cross-training among staff nurses to deter unawareness of float practices. 
  • Establish unit-specific staff development programs. 
  • Tasks must be distributed according to the level of expertise, making sure the novices learn from the veterans. 

2. Consider your nurses’ career goals with every task you assign to them.

Every employee has set their goals before attaining their next job. Be it short-term or long-term, one of your goals should be to ensure they reach those achievements without forgetting the organization’s vision. Floating has its own set of problems but may be used to your advantage and to nurses’ benefits if handled properly. 

  • Compensation for the Work 

Float pool nurses get paid more with a total annual salary of $107,000+. However, if the tasks they accomplish weigh heavier than their float pool nurse salary, they might find themselves at odds with the workload. As the employer, you can apply a reward system and pay recognition for those who do their jobs well. 

This way, you will boost your nurses’ morale, and they will be more open to being responsible for patient safety. They will now consider floating as a task worth partaking in, as their workload may increase but the compensation is commensurate. 

  • Field Growth 

Float pool nurses will encounter different cases and interact with patients with varying medical needs. Floating diversifies their experiences, so they’ll know what to do when the first sign of a problem arises. You can highlight this career benefit when you ask your regular nurses to take on float pool assignments.  

With proper support systems and supervision of nursing managers, a daunting nursing unit may provide them with greater chances for improvements and quick wins to tell. 

3. Share the heavy load that your nurses carry.

As the employer taking the helm, the measures you administer regarding floating procedures will be a key factor in ensuring quality care for patients and nurses. However, simultaneously, you must also listen to every nurse to create more effective methods of addressing their problems. 

  • Ensure adequate staffing. 

Care must be given as intensively as the patients need it. Float pool nurses help a lot in taking care of patients, but it is still important that the correct nurse-to-patient ratio and adequate equipment for proper care are within a hand’s reach. Your role as an employer is to create a pool of nurses that will cover for the emergencies that either come from sudden resignation or leave due to sickness or personal endeavors. 

  • Create a system with equal amounts of rest and work. 

Scheduling and delegation of float assignments for every nurse are necessary to reduce further difficulties in their work. As their employer, you can find ways to ensure that the work orders within the existing float pool are properly distributed. This way, burnout can be prevented. 

Run Toward Your Goal Without Leaving Your Nurses 

There are pros and cons to being a float pool nurse. Their job literally means to nourish people. However, the patients they care for are at their most vulnerable state. If you were the one wearing these patients’ shoes, you would want your attending nurse to be as vigorous and engaging as possible. Fortunately, you don’t have to be at the receiving end of care to understand the struggle these nurses undergo, and what you need to aid them.  

Dealing with people alone is already a hearty task, but with proper management skills, floating should not cause you to lose more nurses. You can follow these steps to rekindle the fire of service within the hearts of your nurses. PRS Global can help you. With the right plan and execution to ensure nurses’ goals are in line with yours, you can make them see that they are not alone in this endeavor. 


PRS Global ensures the qualifications of nurses who are intellectually, experientially, and emotionally capable. With our candidate pools, you can look for nurses that will work with and for you. Let us create a common ground where your vision is set while the needs of your nurses are duly met. Partner with us by sending a message now, and we will help you take that next step!