Rolling Out The Red Carpet For Your Float Nurses

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Today I’d like to tell you why and how you should be rolling out the red carpet for your float nurses.

Four years ago I went back to the bedside. It had been 8 years since I independently cared for patients, so I was a nervous wreck! The environment had changed so much that even though I had been a nurse for 20+ years, I was not confident in my ability to get back on the horse.

My third day off of orientation (keep in mind I only worked twice a month), I noticed that my name wasn’t on the assignment board. I’m an optimist so my first thought was that I wasn’t needed! In my mind I was already planning what I would do when I got home. So I said to the charge nurse Lisa, “Uh…Lisa. I don’t see my name on the board.” Then Lisa said those fatal words, “I’m sorry Renee. But you got pulled to 5Tower.” WHATTTTTTTT?????

Immediately I felt a surge of hydrochloric acid well up in my stomach and think I lost my peripheral vision for a moment. I wanted to cry because I know what we do to pulled people.


We give float staff, agency, and travelers the WORST patient assignments. We exclude, ignore, and torture them. I’ve actually heard nurses say, “Well, they make the big bucks (travelers/agency), so give them the worst patients.”

One nurse shared that when she got pulled to another unit, they wouldn’t give her the code to the staff bathroom. That she had to leave the unit and find a public bathroom.

Another nurse shared that as an agency nurse, it’s not uncommon that she would get all of the isolation, incontinent, or dementia patients.

And another shared that the staff would hide the blood pressure cuffs and wouldn’t give her a med cart.

WHY WHY WHY do we treat nurses who are there to HELP us, like they are gum on our shoes? Because they make more money? If YOUR mom was on your unit, would you still give someone who has never worked on your unit before and who might not be fully competent caring for your patient population the worst assignments just because they make a few more bucks? What difference does it make how much money someone earns?

When someone works on your unit, they are a reflection of you.

[easy-tweet tweet=”When someone works on your unit, they are a reflection of you!”]


So as I walked the “green mile” to 5Tower, I kept hoping that it was all a mistake. That maybe I wasn’t really being pulled. That Lisa was going to run after me and tell me that 5Tower didn’t really need me and I could just go home.

But nobody saved me.

As I walked onto the unit, a nurse who was standing at the nurses’ station yelled, “Are you Renee?” Here was my chance to get away! I wanted to fake an aneurysm so that I could leave. Sigh…But I said yes. Right away, she said, “Kara! Kara! Renee’s here!”  Kara, who was in charge that day, came out of the break room. Her hair was blowing in the wind and a bright light shined all around her (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit). Kara said, “You’re Renee! Welcome to our home. Consider yourself a guest in our house. We are going to make sure you have the BEST day you’ve ever had in this organization. You’ve already met Carol. Carol has been here for 25 years and is our best nurse. She’s going to give you report.”

Was I being “punked”??

The first thing Carol told me was where to go number 1, where to go number 2 (always a different bathroom!), and where to eat and drink (Maslow). Then she showed me my med cart and told me she made sure it was fully stocked with everything I needed, even with 2 courtesy bags for the patients who were on continuous IV fluids. She said, “You know how there are 10 different codes for 10 different doors? I’ve written them all down for you on this sticky pad.” And then proceeded to give me a comprehensive report on my patients.

Throughout the day, Diane, the nursing assistant would kick me out of my room if she saw me doing something she could do; like cleaning up the blood from my patient who kept pulling out his IV; or getting my patient more water or ginger ale from the kitchen.

Kara also kept her eye on me and would frequently take care of things for me; like doing discharge instructions, calling docs to clarify orders, and giving my patient pain medication when I was stuck in another patient’s room. Kara was right. It was the very best day I ever had in that organization.  But who benefited the most?

My patients did.

When you roll out the red carpet for your floaters, agency and traveling nurses, PATIENTS receive better care.

[easy-tweet tweet=”When you roll out the red carpet for your floaters, agency and traveling nurses, patients receive better care.”]


  • Greet them with a smile, some enthusiasm, and gratitude that they are there
  • Give them the easiest assignments (I’m serious…the EASIEST assignments)
  • Give them a tour of your unit and make sure you write down any codes they need to get into rooms
  • Introduce them to everyone on your unit, including the unit secretary, housekeepers, physicians, therapists, etc.
  • Check on them frequently to see if they need help
  • Make sure they are “fed and watered”
  • Check their orders to make sure they aren’t missing anything (I still have trouble figuring out what orders are active!)
  • Help with any admissions or discharges, which can be so different depending on the hospital and/or unit
  • Thank them for being there – for helping – for being guests in your home

In the end, aren’t we all supposed to make decisions based on what’s best for patients and not based on who makes more money?  When you roll out the red carpet for your float staff, agency, and travelers, everyone wins!

Check out my book below for strategies to protect yourself and others from workplace bullying!

Thanks so much for reading!

Take care. Be kind. Stay connected.

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