April 4, 2022

Flexible Float Pools: Boosting Hospital Staffing

Nurse float pools are invaluable during a crisis or fluctuating patient demand. Here’s how to build a flexible float pool with employees and per diem clinicians.

Your facility’s core staff is precious. Building out that team takes time and effort. But when you need help right away, you need a flexible go-to alternative: a nurse float pool.

Nurses who are part of a flexible float pool provide valuable support for your steady core team. During a given shift, these clinicians float to short-staffed units to help maintain safe nurse-to-patient ratios. And while float nurses do get the satisfaction of resolving crises, many core staff would rather stay put.

To keep employee satisfaction and care quality high through fluctuating patient demand, build a flexible float pool that includes dedicated float nurses, an internal per-diem pool, and on-demand per-diem talent. When you build flexible nursing float pools from a diverse mix of clinicians, you’ll be well prepared to staff your facility in a cost-effective manner.

Why core staff shouldn’t float

Occasional floating allows nurses to learn about other departments and teams, expanding their knowledge about your organization and patient care. But it can also create unnecessary stress. When nurses have to move to unfamiliar units, they may have to perform tasks outside of their core competencies, which creates anxiety. Not knowing the processes of a new-to-them unit makes assignments more frustrating and time-consuming.

Nurse taking care of a patient at bedside

Core staff of the floated-to unit may also treat float nurses like outsiders, which can impact morale. Given nurses often already experience high levels of stress and low levels of job satisfaction, unit managers should float core staff as a last resort.

When to enlist CareRev

To maintain safe staffing levels when patient volume trends up, it’s imperative to build and maintain a float team comprised of clinicians with a variety of licenses and skill sets. Nurse float pools allow facilities to optimize their existing staff while relying less on agencies and travelers.

However, float nurses move around often. One study reported a float pool turnover rate of 40%, causing organizational costs to exceed $1 million.

In an attempt to improve these numbers, one healthcare organization ran an experiment with the goal of decreasing payroll costs. They expanded their float pool by 50 and hired a nurse manager to oversee both the core staff and float nurses. By the end of the 18-month project, the hospital had decreased its number of travelers by 67%, saving about $10 million.

Float pool nurses in busy hospital hallway

To ensure you always have a full float pool, augment your team with fully vetted, experienced clinicians available through CareRev. Call on CareRev when:

  • clinicians from your float pool aren’t comfortable with, or lack experience in, the specific unit that needs support
  • your internal float pool needs support and increased flexibility

How to optimize your flexible float pool with technology

When you need qualified healthcare professionals quickly, turn to our cloud-based marketplace application to streamline staffing and workforce management.

Our platform allows managers to evaluate schedules and staffing levels across departments and float clinicians as needed. The app makes it easy: simply post open shifts and your internal float pool can view and book those shifts through the app. When you’ve posted shifts, communicated with your nurse float pool, and still need support, you can expand your search to CareRev’s external talent pool of nurse entrepreneurs.

When evaluating tools for onboarding, submitting timesheets, and for status updates, consider mobile options. In a 2021 survey of CareRev professionals, most (84.5%) said the mobile app experience was very important. A broader study conducted by researchers in Ontario, Canada, found most modern nurses used their smartphones to communicate with their team and to access information.

The bottom line

Float pools are a cost-effective way for healthcare facilities to maintain quality of care and maintain job satisfaction among core staff. When your internal float pool needs refilled, turn to the wide range of experienced, per-diem professionals available through a marketplace platform.

Ready to see how CareRev can optimize your float pool?

Request a demo