Role of Float Pools in Healthcare Staffing

Jun 3, 2024

The landscape of the healthcare industry is continuously evolving and changing, and healthcare facilities need to be flexible to adjust to this changing landscape. Different types of strategies are being put in place by hospitals, clinics, and other facilities to ensure all shifts are filled and at the same time ensures that the quality of healthcare is maintained. One such strategy is the use of float pools, which involves moving or floating the in-house staff to other departments of the same facility that are understaffed. It also refers to a group of nurses or other healthcare staff that are called in to cover the shifts that the in-house staff cannot cover due to various reasons like maternity leaves, sick leaves, or when the facility is experiencing a high influx of patients. 

Earlier, this concept was viewed negatively and as a disruption to the traditional work schedule of nurses. However, with time this perception changed, and float pools are now considered as a permanent healthcare staffing solution to meet specialized needs across different specialties. It is reported that the hospitals implementing float pools as a part of their staffing strategy typically save 2% – 5% of total labor costs.

In this blog, we will focus on how a thoughtfully constructed and well-managed float pool can support positive patient outcomes and ensure the safety and satisfaction of the patients.

Benefits of Hiring Float Pools in Healthcare Staffing


Ensuring Proper Nurse-Patient Ratio:
Patient overload is one of the chronic problems that the healthcare industry faces, and coupled with the shortage of healthcare professionals, this has proven to be a thorn in the flesh that has brought the healthcare industry to its knees. Despite the recommended baseline nurse-patient ratio of 1:4, hospitals and other facilities set a higher ratio to cut costs. This, in turn, leads to a thin nursing staff that cannot cater to patients and ensure that quality healthcare is delivered. Float pools can ensure that safe nurse-to-patient ratios are maintained when there are staff shortages or increased patient volumes while protecting the hospital’s operational and financial stability. They do this by allowing for the workload redistribution and ensuring that the inhouse staff is not overworked. Organizations also call upon float nurses to balance the ratio between nurses-patients, whenever there is an influx of patients.

Preventing Burnout: Burnout takes a measurable toll on facilities that provide patient care. According to research published in PLoS One, it is reported that employees suffering from burnout are about three times more likely to miss a shift than other workers. The report also established burnout to be a major reason for serious health conditions like cardiovascular diseases, chronic musculoskeletal pain, and depression. The American Psychological Association, in its report, pointed out that intensive care unit workers are facing longer shifts, increased patient deaths, lack of personal protective equipment, and financial fears, among other stressors that contribute to burnout. Float pools decrease the excessive overtime and fatigue of full-time staff. In doing so, they allow sufficient time for the full-time staff to recover from the fatigue and provide a better work-life balance

Reducing Turnover: Nursing staff turnover rates in the U.S. have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. Research from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has shown that higher nursing staff turnover rates are associated with lower quality of care. According to a survey of NSI, the hospital turnover rate currently stands at 20.7%. Based on a comparative study of the last 5 years, the same report concluded that the average hospital turned over 106.6% of its workforce. Hospitals that only track “full/part-time” separations reported an average turnover rate of 17.2%, a median of 17.5%, and a mode of 18.9%. In early 2018, the retention rate reached 96%, with only 4% of nurses leaving the float pool as compared with the 40% turnover rate in 2016. These results have demonstrated the necessity of investing in the float pool. Incorporating float pools to supplement staffing variations gives the in-house nursing staff the confidence and autonomy to manage the schedules and, at the same time, provides them with the flexibility they desire.

Supporting In-House Teams: With ready access to a pool of skilled nurses, in-house teams don’t have to be floated to other departments as frequently. In-house teams are able to build connections with the people in the regular float pool because they are seen more frequently than traditional temp workers. This leads to better teamwork, a more enjoyable work environment, and improved patient care.

Ensures Quality Patient Care: Float pool nurses have a unique skill set and experience that improves patient care in various ways. Floating between different units, they develop strong clinical skills and exposure to diverse patient populations. This broad expertise allows them to adapt quickly and deliver excellent care, regardless of the unit. Their flexibility also promotes continuity of care because they can fill staffing gaps that would otherwise require unfamiliar nurses or lower nurse-patient ratios. Float nurses promote best practices and standardized care throughout the facility as they rotate between units. They can identify and close care gaps and inconsistencies. They gain a system-wide perspective on improving care delivery by floating to different floors and service lines.

Float pools provide much-needed respite from healthcare worker burnout at a time when the industry needs it the most.  Hospitals can maintain safe staffing ratios and high-quality patient care while empowering clinicians and lowering labor costs. Furthermore, they can provide clinical staff with more flexibility and control over their schedules, and opportunities for skill development. It’s no wonder that healthcare service providers are increasingly turning toward float pools to alleviate burnout. 

At iQuasar, we have access to thousands of qualified, verified and credentialed nurses who are motivated and ready to work. We also possess an experienced team of healthcare recruiters along with industry-specific job portals which provides us access to a very diverse pool of candidates. Contact us today to find out how to leverage our network of skilled, trained, and motivated professionals to help you to unlock the potential of a dynamic float pool staffing solution tailored to your unique needs.

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