Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

First Advisor

Rebecca Beck-Little

Abstract

As the largest group of health care providers, nurses play a vital role in the safety and satisfaction of patients. Despite this vital role, the nursing shortage continues to grow. As a result of this shortage and to fix staffing insufficiencies, nurses are frequently assigned to work in an area that they are not familiar with. This reassignment of a nurse to a different unit from their normally assigned unit is referred to as "floating." Nurses that are reassigned to a different unit from their normally assigned unit are referred to as "float nurses." Some healthcare professionals believe the use of float nurses to provide care compromises patient outcomes, safety, and satisfaction. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the perceptions of registered nurses regarding the use of float nurses to provide care. The participants consisted of 33 registered nurses all working in the acute care setting. Of the 33 participants who responded, the majority (55.3%) worked on a critical care unit. The majority (65.8%) of the participants had been floated to a unit that requires different competencies than their primary assigned unit. The participants completed 13 questions related to their perception of the use of float nurses to provide patient care. Statistical analysis revealed the majority of nurses most strongly agreed with the following four questions: (1) RNs should receive special training prior to being floated to a unit other than their primary unit, (2) RNs floated to a unit different from their primary unit should be recognized on the clinical ladder, (3) RNs who are floated are provided extra support, and (4) RNs floated should be given lighter patient assignment. The majority of nurses most strongly disagreed with the following three questions: (1) RNs floated to a unit different than their primary unit provide safe care to their patients, (2) RNs should be floated, and 3) RNs are satisfied with the level of care provided by RNs who are floated to their unit.

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