Thursday, 27 October 2011

Float Pool Nursing: A Distinct Mindset

Expert Author Tamara L Aguilar
The ABCs of Float Pool Nursing
For the past two years, I have been employed as a registered nurse (RN) in the critical care float pool at a large metropolitan hospital within Northern California. This particular position is unique from traditional unit based nursing positions in that I am an clinical nurse without a home.
Alternatively, I float between all critical care areas within the hospital setting. At my hospital, these areas include: the Emergency Department, the Burn Intensive Care Unit, the Medical Intensive Care Unit, the Trauma-Surgery Intensive Care Unit, the Medical Specialty Intensive Care Unit, the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit, the Cardiothorasic Intensive Care Unit, the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, & the Post Anesthesia Care Unit.
Upon arrival to the hospital, I stop by the hospital staffing office in order to receive my particular assignment. I clock in and directly begin my trek towards my designated unit. After a brisk inclusive unit update, each individual nurse receives his or her assignment and continues on to obtain report from the previous nurse. This shift report includes information on the patients' overall condition, including any previous pertinent diagnoses and/or procedures, and any critical developments that may have manifested over the preceding shift and/or current admission.
Within the critical care setting, or at least in California, you can expect to have anywhere from one to two patients depending on patient acuity, otherwise known as the overall workload of caring for that distinct patient, and available nursing staff. Some standard conventional critical care diagnoses include acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), sepsis (blood infection), pneumonia, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) exacerbation, acute kidney failure, respiratory failure, chest pain, hypotension (acute blood loss), and stroke (brain attack).
Float Nursing: Portability & Flexibility
My nursing peers oftentimes ask me if it is challenging to change between the various specialty units within the hospital. I can confidently answer them no, and I owe this confident response all to my recent exposure to this unconventional position. I unquestionably enjoy what I do. The benefit my job has generated for me to experience and learn amidst the various specialties within the hospital setting is unparalleled and priceless.
After my standard general hospital orientation, I completed three shifts with preceptor (overseer) nurses amidst the various aforementioned specialty intensive care units. Yes, you heard me right! After only three shifts, I was granted the privilege of caring for my own critical care patients.
Initially, I am not going to lie to you, I was apprehensive, perhaps even reluctant, but as time progressed I swiftly observed my skills strengthen and my overall confidence level grow. I made it a point to always ask for help when unsure, to research any diagnoses or procedures with which I may have been unfamiliar, and to always take on a challenge when the opportunity arrived. I believe that this proactive approach supported by a positive attitude, resulted in the confident, dependable float nurse that I have become today.
Floating, Not For Every-Nurse
My enthusiasm for float pool nursing, does not automatically make it the ideal position for all nurses. Recently a nurse co-worker asked me if I do not sometimes miss the close relationships that you can develop working on a unit with a set group of familiar faces. Although many nurses may find the almost anonymous aspect of this particular position as a detrimental deal-breaker, other nurses, such as myself, conversely find this aspect remarkably liberating. Many of us float nurses enjoy the ability to escape unit politics unscathed.
Additionally, I personally would not recommend float pool nursing to those novice nurses. Although each individual nurse has a variety of skills and experiences depending on their background, as a general rule fledgling nurses need a lot of supervision and guidance. Because of the often obscure, unpredictable aspects of floating, even experienced, capable nurses can find the notably ambiguous nature of the assignments off-putting.
Nurse Tamara;)

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