What It’s Really Like to be a Float Pool Nurse

Brianna Kirkland, BSN, RN
Specialty: Med/Surg Float Pool

Foreword from Tae: I worked with Brianna at my first RN job. Washington, D.C. born and raised, Brianna was a new grad and started about a year after me. Now Brianna is pretty much a vet! To know Bri is to love Bri!

Brianna, what are the 6 most interesting things about your specialty?
  1. Float nurses are able to develop larger a foundation of knowledge, clinical skills, and interprofessional confidence being expected to meet with all units within a given facility.

  2. Float pool nurses are mostly able to avoid the hospital politics of being stationary. [That can be a major plus!]

  3. The pay/flexibility leads to higher job satisfaction. [Most times, across the country, transitioning to being a float nurse comes with a $15-$25 per hour pay raise!]

  4. Being a float nurse and working on a different unit every day forces you out of the comfort zone. We assume that all units within the hospital would function similarly but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! All units have their ups and downs, but tele (cardiac units) seem to be easier to manage than med/surg and I like that you’re actually able to get off work promptly in the ED when your shift is over. The units I float to most often are cardiac IMC, interventional cardiology, and stroke step down/medsurg. I don’t have a favorite unit, just a few coworkers I enjoy working with.

  5. At my hospital, float nurses are divided into tiers. Depending on your tier, your pay and holidays/weekend requirements differ. Float nurses are required to work some holidays, but can work less holidays than regular staff nurses. As for weekends, in my tier, we only have to work one 12-hour weekend shift per six week schedule block.
  6. The big question- Does being a float nurse mean you always get the most horrible assignments? Crappy assignments are just a thing at a lot of hospitals, so they can’t give all of the difficult patients to the float nurses, but do be prepared to work. Any time you feel unsafe practicing there are avenues to protect float nurses, too.
What is the number 1 thing you wish you had been told as a nursing student?

Nursing School failed to prepare bright-eyed students on the reality of the culture of care in our health system. We are trained on “best case scenarios”, however, that is rarely the case. It would be beneficial to find the boundary between caring and business. 

Lastly, if you had 8 minutes to speak to the entire world on one issue in healthcare, what would you speak about?

I would talk about ways we can reduce health care related debt due to lack of health care education and access to affordable health insurance.

Check out Brianna on Instagram, @respectmyreal!

Check out all other interviews from The 618 Series here**

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