5 “Rights” for a Good Float

In nursing school we learned about the Five Rights of medication administration – right medication, right patient, right route, right dose, right time. (Some people added right indication.) If you follow the five rights, you will have done your duty in administering those medications.

Come to think of it, the 5 rights are suspiciously similar to the  Eightfold Path of Buddhism...

Someday I will post about medications. But today I want to talk about the 5 “Rights” that make a float a good float.

1) Right assignment – we’re float nurses. We’re specialized at being generalists. And obviously, floats from other floors are specialized in something different than the floor they are going to.

So we can handle a lot but maybe not that super-unique patient that only ever comes to your floor because nobody else knows how to take care of him/her. No, we don’t need an EASY assignment. But a FAIR assignment.

And before you give us Y patient that everyone else is sick of, think – is that the right nurse for the right patient?  If I can do everything for that patient, I am happy to take them for a night. It’s only a night! But if I can’t, if I will be constantly running to your nurses and taking them away from their patients…

2) Right resources – As a float, it’s important to have a good resource from the floor to help answer all those picky questions. “Do you chart in this or this?” “How do you do this on your floor?” “Where do I find X tiny little thing in the par stock room?” Also it’s great to have other helpful staff – PCAs, secretaries, pharmacists – who are polite and responsive and really make you feel part of the team.

3) Right attitude – on both sides! As the float nurse, I need to have what my facility calls a questioning, receptive attitude where I am flexible and open to learning, where I am not upset if my assignment seems hard but instead am willing to trust the charge nurse. And a right attitude from the staff is really helpful.

In fact, sneaky tip, it’s good when both sides (the float and the unit) are over the top. In general, I don’t feel like people need to thank me for floating to them. It’s my job! But, come on, who doesn’t like being thanked and maybe getting a piece of candy? And people respond well when I compliment their unit (no insincere compliments of course, but there’s something good about every unit!)

4) Right break – If I get a lunch at a reasonable time, and if I am eating in the break room and other people include me, I am a happy nurse.

If not, I’m not as happy.

Our place is great about prioritizing lunches and promoting inclusiveness.

5) Right handoff – a timely, smooth hand-off is a wonderful thing. Come find me and ask me for report before I only have five minutes to discuss 3 patients. Because then you know I’ll leave late, and I’ll be sad, because I’ve already been at work at least 8.5 hours.

By these criteria, most of my floats are good floats. And for all you nurses out there, getting ready to go to another unit…

Have a good float!


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