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10 Pros and Cons of Being a Float Pool Nurse


Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

Nurses who work in the float pool are a special breed of nurses. Float pool nurses tend to be open to change, they are adaptable, and they always have a positive attitude to any situation. Keep in mind that it is not to say that being a float pool nurse and floating is not without its challenges. There are many pros and cons to this profession, but it is up to you as an individual to decide what works best for you. Do you know what are the pros and cons of being a float pool nurse? This article will go over the top 10 pros and cons of being a float pool nurse. Let's take a look at both sides, so you will have an idea of what this life is like before taking the plunge!


What Does A Float Pool Nurse Do?


A float pool nurse is a registered nurse who fills in short-unit staffing. You may find float pool nurses working in any area of a healthcare institution. Float pool nurses do not have a specific specialty. Float pool nurses are an essential part of the healthcare institution’s staff and help to ensure that all areas of the healthcare institution are adequately staffed.

A float pool nurse will often work long hours and must be able to adapt to changes in their schedule quickly. As a float pool nurse, you will need to be able to roll with the punches. One day you may be working in the pediatric unit, and the next, you may be working on a surgical floor. Every day will bring new challenges, and you need to be ready to adapt quickly. Being able to handle the ever-changing environment is just one of the skills that can help you succeed as a float pool nurse. Float pool nurses are a vital part of the nursing staff and play a critical role in ensuring that patients receive the care they need.


Where Does A Float Pool Nurse Work?


As a float pool nurse, you may find yourself working in a number of different areas within a hospital. This can include working in an emergency room, maternity ward, pediatric unit, or any other department that needs nurses on staff. Float pool nurses are often called upon to fill in for other nurses who are absent from work or to cover a shift in a different area of the hospital. You can also find float pool nurses circulating between various clinics in the outpatient setting.


How Much Does A Float Pool Nurse Make?


As a float pool nurse, you can expect to make a pretty nice living. The float pool nurse salary will increase with experience, so you can expect to make a bit less than more experienced nurses if you are just starting out. Let's take a deeper look at the figures. The average salary that you can expect for a float pool nurse is about $39.09 per hour. This hourly rate will have you earning around $81,188 a year.

Now, if you are just starting out in your career, you can expect a salary of $59,500 a year or $28.61 an hour. After getting some experience under your belt, your salary will increase considerably. Those with mid-level experience can earn around $45.19 an hour, roughly about $94,000 a year. If you have been working for quite some time, you will see another jump in your salary. Those of you who have top-level work experience can expect to earn around $60.10 an hour, which would have you earning an annual salary of $125,000 a year.

Level of
Experience
HourlyAnnual
Entry-Level$28.61$59,500
Mid-Level$45.19$94,000
Top-Level$60.10$125,000
Average Salary$39.03$81,188
(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)


Steps To Becoming A Float Pool Nurse


1. The first step to becoming a float pool nurse is attending and graduating from an accredited nursing program. You will need to earn either an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing. Keep in mind that many employers will only hire nurses with a bachelor's degree.

2. The next step in order to become a float pool nurse, is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX exam. This test covers all the principles of nursing as well as medical terminology. It measures the minimum competency to safely practice as a nurse. This may be taken many times before you are able to pass it.

3. Once you have passed this exam, you will have to apply for RN state licensure based on your home state's requirements.

4. You will then need to obtain specific certifications in order to work. This will depend on the institution you work for. Some of these certifications may include, Basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), pediatric advanced life support (PALS), and the neonatal resuscitation program (NRP).

5. Depending on the institution you work for, you may be required to have experience in certain specialties such as medical/surgical nursing, pediatric nursing, post-anesthesia care, and the intensive care units before joining a float pool.


TOP CONS OF BEING A FLOAT POOL NURSE

(The following are the top 10 disadvantages of being a Float Pool Nurse.)

1. You may need to train in many units.

One of the top disadvantages of being a float pool nurse is that you may have to train on multiple specialty units. Float pool nurses work in a variety of departments within the healthcare institution. You are not required to have advanced knowledge about every department, but you must become familiar with the unit. Float pool nurses will need to obtain training from each unit because it will be necessary to provide safe patient care. This can be a tedious and daunting task. Therefore, it is essential for nurses to carefully consider whether or not they are interested in becoming float pool nurses.

2. You will need to juggle many certifications.

Another downside to being a float pool nurse is that you must obtain and maintain multiple certifications. This is because you will be working in various specialties, and each specialty may have its own certification requirements. These certifications may include, Basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), pediatric advanced life support (PALS), and the neonatal resuscitation program (NRP). That is a lot of exams to pass and many certifications to maintain.

3. You will not have any control over what units you will float to.

One of the biggest disadvantages of being a float pool nurse is that you may be required to float to different units throughout the healthcare institution. This means that you will not have a say over what unit you are placed on to work. You may be placed in a medical unit, surgical unit, or even an emergency department. So, if you do not like working in a particular specialty unit, well, too bad. It is essential to be aware of this before accepting a position in the float pool.

4. You will not have any control over your assignments.

As a float pool nurse, you will not have any say over your assignments for the day. Typically, the float pool nurse will end up with the worst assignment of the unit. This is because the float pool nurse is a fill-in for when nurses are absent or need to be reassigned. The better assignments will be given to that unit's core staff. This can be frustrating for the float pool nurse, as they may be left with an assignment that is difficult to complete or does not fit their skill set.

5. You will have to learn so many different protocols and procedures.

As a float pool nurse, you will have to learn the protocols and policies of multiple units. This will be your responsibility. Having so many policies and procedures to learn can lead to an incomplete knowledge base. How can you possibly remember all this info? You may also run into issues where you confuse the policy and procedures of one unit for another.

6. You will not become specialized in a specific area.

Another one of the cons of being a float pool nurse is that you will never become specialized in a particular area. You will never be given the opportunity to spend enough time in one unit to become truly familiar with the patients and their type of care. This can be frustrating for nurses looking to advance their careers, as they may never have the chance to specialize in a particular field. Additionally, this may leave the float pool nurses to often struggle. After all, you feel as though you lack a complete understanding of the patients and their illness because you are never assigned to one unit for an extended amount of time.

7. You will not make meaningful relationships with other staff.

One of the disadvantages of being a float pool nurse is that you will become close to no one and make few meaningful relationships. It can be difficult to form bonds with other nurses when you are constantly on the move. This is because you are often placed in different hospital areas, working with different people each time. As a result, you can feel relatively isolated and alone. It will also be challenging to get help when you need it because you are viewed as an outsider.

8. Not knowing where everything is on the unit.

As a float pool nurse, you may not know where everything is on the unit you are working on. This includes supplies, the crash cart, and linens, to name a few. This can make it challenging to provide safe and effective care to patients. You may also end up looking incompetent to your patient and their families. This can be frustrating for both you and the staff you are working with.

9. It is hard to form patient relationships.

When you are evaluating the pros and cons of being a float pool nurse you will need to understand that it will be hard to form relationships with your patients and their families. You are essentially a stranger to them and the unit, and they know it. While you may think of yourself as an essential member of the healthcare team (and you are), your role is not clearly defined in the minds of patients and their families.

10. Not knowing the unit routines

As per the job description of float pool nurses, you will be required to work in different units in the healthcare facility. You may not be familiar with the unit or its routine because you do not frequently work on that unit. As a float pool nurse, you may feel lost and not know the unit routine you are working on. This is because you are assigned to different units depending on the hospital's needs. You may be on a medical-surgical floor one day and then work in the intensive care unit (ICU) the next.


TOP PROS OF BEING A FLOAT POOL NURSE

(The following are the top 10 advantages of being a Float Pool Nurse.)

1. You will have a flexible schedule.

A float pool nurse position is a perfect opportunity for nurses looking to stay in the healthcare industry but interested in flexible scheduling. Having a flexible schedule will enable you to have a better work/life balance. This will leave you more satisfied with your job.

2. You can earn an excellent salary.

One of the most significant pros of being a float pool nurse is the salary you can be earning. The average salary you can expect to earn as a float pool nurse is about $39.09 per hour, around $81,188 a year. An entry-level wage will have you earning $59,500 a year or $28.61 an hour. A mid-level salary will have you earning around $45.19 an hour, which is roughly about $94,000 a year. Suppose you have a great deal of experience. In that case, you can expect to earn approximately $60.10 an hour, which would earn an annual salary of $125,000 a year.

3. Some institutions will have an increased pay rate for float pool nurses

As a float pool nurse, you may see a higher pay rate than nurses working in the regular staff. This is because some institutions will pay you more if you work in the float pool and not as part of regular staff. This is a pretty nice incentive for people to work as float pool nurses.

4. You will always find a job.

One of the top advantages of being a float pool nurse is that you will never lack employment opportunities. Float pool nurse jobs are often readily available in hospitals nationwide. You can essentially work anywhere. As a float pool nurse, you will be able to work in various types of hospitals with various kinds of patients. You can also search for employment opportunities in nursing homes and other medical facilities. You can choose where you want to work and what kind of work you want to do.

5. If you have a bad day, you may not have to return to that unit.

One of the top pros of being a float pool nurse is that if you are having a bad day on a particular unit or not getting along with the people you are working with, you do not have to repeat the situation the next day. You can simply be assigned to another unit. This can be an excellent relief for nurses who are not enjoying their current assignment or who are feeling overwhelmed. It also allows nurses to develop relationships with more people in the hospital. So, if you are thinking of becoming a float pool nurse, keep in mind that you will have some flexibility in your work schedule.

6. You will become the jack of all trades.

Another one of the top pros of being a float pool nurse is that you will, over time, become the jack of all trades. This is because you will be assigned to different units throughout the hospital, which will give you the opportunity to learn about a variety of specialties. This is an excellent opportunity for nurses who are looking to expand their knowledge and skillset.

7. You will stay out of unit politics.

Workplace politics can take on a complete life of their own. The unit can become somewhat of a soap opera. As a float pool nurse, you will not have to get involved with all the politics and drama that happen in the unit. This is an excellent opportunity to focus on your patients and provide the best care possible. Not getting involved in all the politics and drama will make your day a bit less stressful. You can come in, do your job, and go home without having to worry about what is happening in the unit.

8. You will not get bored

One of the biggest advantages of being a float pool nurse is that you will never be bored. There is always something new to do and new people to meet. You will also have the opportunity to work in various settings, which allows you to experience a variety of different medical environments. Float pool nurses also have the opportunity to learn new skills and work in areas that they might not have otherwise.

9. You will feel decreased burnout.

When weighing the pros and cons of being a float pool nurse, you will need to take into consideration that you will experience a decreased risk of burnout. This is because every day is different, and you will not get wrapped up in the drama. You will also have the opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. This can help keep you fresh and motivated.

10. You will have the experience that will make you more attractive to employers

As a float pool nurse, you will gain tremendous experience and skills that make you attractive to employers. You pretty much will have experience in many different specialties. If you ever wanted to become permanent staff on a particular unit, your resume and experiences will look quite impressive. You will find that employers definitely prefer nurses who have had experience working on the float pool.


My Final Thoughts


The float pool nurse is a unique position in the medical field. So, what are the pros and cons of being a float pool nurse? After reading this article, you should better understand the challenges and rewards that come with being a float pool nurse. It is an honorable profession where nurses get to provide life-saving care, yet the job is not without its difficulties. If you are considering a career as a float pool nurse, we hope this list of the top 10 pros and cons of being a float pool nurse has helped give you an idea of what to expect. But no matter which path you choose, make sure that it is the right fit for your personality and lifestyle!


Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.