Every hospital has stories of nurses who thrive by floating. More than likely, they have chosen to be part of the hospital’s float pool. Yet, for floor nurses who must take float assignments when their unit’s census is low or to fill staffing shortages across the hospital due to absences, vacancies, or high-acuity levels, floating can be a major source of job dissatisfaction. In the past decade, hospitals across the country have revamped their float policies to give nurses greater autonomy and agency in deciding whether or not to float. 

Risi Bello, RN, has been a float nurse at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, for 12 years, and for the most part, loves it. The flexible schedule, the variety of clinical experiences, and the constant exposure to new patients and coworkers are what attracted Bello, 49, to floating in the first place. She’s only required to work a total of 48 hours over a six-week period, which she can work in either 8- or 12-hour shifts. Although two of her shifts have to fall on major holidays each year, the schedule has given Bello, a married mom of six, a work-life balance she might not have achieved had she been a floor nurse.

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