Float Pool Nursing: Pros, Cons, and Crafting the Perfect Float Nurse

Have you ever wondered what float pool nursing is like? These nurses fill staffing gaps throughout various units in the hospital, meaning no two days are the same. Listen in as I discuss what float pool nursing is, it’s pros and cons, and who would make an ideal float pool nurse. Whether you’re an experienced nurse looking for a change of pace or a nursing student who is intrigued by the idea of having a lot of variety, this episode on float pool nursing is for you! 

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What is float pool nursing?

Float pool nursing refers to a nursing practice in which a group of nurses are trained and available to work across various units or departments within a healthcare facility. Unlike traditional nursing roles where nurses are permanently assigned to a specific unit, float pool nurses are assigned to different units on an as-needed basis. They “float” or move between units based on the staffing needs of the hospital.

What does this look like for me at my hospital? I call into the staffing department at 5:30 and ask where I’ll be going that day. I also my float mid-shift.

Characteristics of an ideal float pool nurse

  • Flexible. Seriously flexible.
  • Open minded
  • OK with not knowing what will come next
  • Easily reads a room adapts to the situation
  • Humble, knows when to ask questions, probably not shy
  • Good time management – you don’t know where things are or when you will get floated


  • Fly below the radar, not burdened with unit drama. A safe haven for nurses who are burnt out with unit politics
  • There is usually some perk in terms of pay, scheduling flexibility, lesser weekend commitments
  • More scheduling flexibility
  • Great for those who don’t know what they want to specialize in


  • Usually given straight forward patients, not highly specialized
  • Don’t practice procedures with much frequency
  • Poor support system due to inconsistency. There is something therapeutic about shared experienced, and this is really minimized in the float pool setting
  • Don’t establish rapport with colleagues, revert to formal communication
  • Rarelt get that smooth sailing of getting your patients back, knowing how your doctors tick, etc.
  • TBH: given difficult patients, can feel like a dumping ground

What is the float nurse’s super power?

Just like bees bring pollen to different flowers, float pool nurses bring their skills and experience to various units in the hive that is the hospital setting.

There might not be much glory in having breadth instead of depth of knowledge, but this breadth of knowledge is actually our secret sauce.

When we float to different units, we are able to share our experiences with the department we are working on that day.

What does this look like in real life?

  • I was consulted in the ED for a 3-way foley
  • Psych nurses will get patients with ostomies
  • Insight about where patients should be located in the hospital