MedPro Blog


This week’s edition of the Traveler’s Guide to Nursing and Allied Health gives pointers to nurses on the frontlines who are floating to another unit or picking up an additional patient assignment in the wake of staffing shortages.

Hospitals across the country are facing critical staffing challenges. An estimated 600,000 baby boomer registered nurses are expected to leave the workforce by 2030, according to “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030,” a report from the National Academies Health and Medicine Division. Plus, Becker’s Hospital Review reported that staff RN turnover rates increased by 8.4 percent in 2021



As healthcare facilities adopt various methods to address staffing demands, nurses are being asked to float to additional units. There are plenty of benefits to floating for the right personality. Travel nurses are already looking for a departure from a traditional position, and floating takes the concept one step further. Nurses can expand their expertise and skills, be further engaged, and earn more. Still, floating isn’t for everyone. Working in an unfamiliar unit can be highly stressful and sometimes problematic.

Regardless if a nurse is being asked to float, they should never be placed in a position where they do not feel they can safely and effectively care for their patients with the necessary tools, training, medications, knowledge, resources, and equipment. Per the American Nurses Association (ANA) registered nurses “have the professional right to accept, reject or object in writing to any patient assignment that puts patients or themselves at serious risk for harm. Registered nurses have the professional obligation to raise concerns regarding any patient assignment that puts patients or themselves at risk for harm.”



Consider these tips before you accept a request to float to another unit or take an additional patient assignment.

  • What’s the assignment or unit? Ask for clarification and details. Get a critical assessment or rundown on the patient(s) you will be asked to cover, their needs, complexity, stability, etc.
  • Are you comfortable and confident floating or taking an additional patient? If not, let those in charge know your limitations and ask if the assignment can be modified. Nurses have an obligation to refuse an assignment if they lack the necessary education or experience to care for a patient.
  • Is there a buddy system for the unit, or will you have a staff member you can lean on? Will there be any cross-training? Ask the charge nurse for an experienced nurse to be your point of contact and be available to answer questions such as where the crash carts, IV supplies, etc., are and explain the usual routine for that shift.
  •  Is the additional unit or patient(s) close to your normal unit or at another end of the hospital? Will additional resources be given to address any logistic concerns?
  • Is the request due to an emergency or ongoing staffing issues?


Floating can be a welcome diversion from the normal shift routine or a source of great stress. Ask plenty of questions and share any concerns before you accept a floating or additional patient assignment.


Are you looking for your next assignment? Click Here for the latest Travel Nurse and Allied Health positions at MedPro Healthcare Staffing.