Nursing Float Pool Models: 7 Ways They Solve Workforce Issues

7 Ways to Solve Workforce Issues with Nursing Float Pool Models

Although healthcare providers have used nursing float pool models for decades, their use has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. And for good reason! Today, experts consider float pools to be “an economic necessity” because of the many ways they help improve workforce management. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at nursing float pools and the many benefits they offer healthcare employers.

What Are Nursing Float Pool Models?

A method of staffing that gives healthcare employers better flexibility in their workforce, float pools describe a team of on-demand nurses who can fill in for a facility’s core staff at a moment’s notice, across a variety of settings.

When used successfully, nursing float pool models provide a full team of nurses to help cover staff shortages, unexpected changes in patient census, and other critical needs — all without requiring the use of other employed nurses to serve that role. They can even operate as their own departments. In this case, they consist of a manager who leads a team of fully credentialed and verified registered nurses (RNs) licensed practical or vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs), and certified nurse assistants (CNAs). They can also include auxiliary personnel like educators, techs and clinical aides.

Types of Nursing Float Pool Models

Nursing float pool models don’t focus on a single specialty or department. Instead, they fill in where needed, whether it’s the ER, OR, maternity ward, or virtually anywhere else. Because of this, the nurses in any float pool must have a variety of skills and experience, plus considerable flexibility. 

Float pool models can be internal or external. Also sometimes called resource pools, internal float pools are often used by larger health networks with the resources to not only employ separate nursing teams, but also to move them between facilities as needed. On the other hand, smaller and mid-size organizations more often use external nursing pools delivered by a third-party staffing provider.

How Nursing Float Pools Help Solve Workforce Challenges

It’s true that the widespread labor disruptions caused by the pandemic have prompted the greater use of nursing float pools. But it’s not the only reason. From boosting revenue to curbing turnover, here are seven ways that nursing float pool models help employers meet today’s key workforce challenges.

#1: More Workforce Flexibility

Float pools provide flexibility at a time when that’s never mattered more. They offer a useful way to seamlessly cover vacations, maternity leaves, and other planned absences. They also help cover for sick days, family emergencies and other forms of unexpected absenteeism.

In addition, float pools can help employers quickly adjust to changes in patient census. They help keep labor scaled down when census is low, or ramp up quickly during an influx of patients.

#2: Maintaining Patient Care Standards

Nursing float pool models can also help maintain quality of care in the face of high turnover, and at a time when backfilling clinical positions is more difficult than ever. Having access to float pools helps leaders more readily shift resources among departments when skilled workers are in short supply. In doing so, they help keep facilities of all types running smoothly and at the highest standards of patient care.

#3: Better Cost-Effectiveness & Financial Outcomes

Studies show that, by negatively affecting patient outcomes and an organization’s ability to compete, understaffing can also impact financial performance. By helping maintain optimal staffing ratios, nursing float pool models can help providers maintain positive outcomes and revenue alike. They can also help ensure that providers don’t miss out on payments under new value-based care reimbursement models.

#4: Greater Administrative Efficiency

Nursing float pool models also drive efficiency by helping leaders adapt to change without having to quickly hire and onboard new nurses. With skilled workers standing by to fill in when needed, employers have more options in the face of unexpected turnover.

This staffing model can help improve the labor budget by letting administrative workers focus on tasks other than constant sourcing. In fact, some researchers have estimated the labor savings offered by staffing pools to be as much as 5 percent.

Pro Tip: Need help sourcing skilled workers? Discover how a dedicated staffing partner can help!

#5: Higher Staff Satisfaction & Retention

Using nursing float pool models can also help employers improve job satisfaction among core staff — and, along with it, retention. Float pools can reduce the fatigue of requiring nurses to cover absences in other departments. In doing so, they can promote better work/life balance and well-being among workers, and possibly curb nurse burnout, too. 

#6: Improved Workplace Culture

This model also helps employers build a better workplace culture by removing float requirements from their core staff. And by giving them the option to join an internal float pool department, employers provide workers with the chance to scale down their schedule when they want (or need) to focus on family or other personal matters.

Plus, the interdepartmental nature of float pools helps nurture a closer community throughout an entire facility or even hospital network. It can also enable more mentorship and professional development opportunities.

#7: More Appealing to New Workers

Finally, float pools can help attract new workers by providing a variety of appealing job benefits. In addition to offering a better culture and lower burnout, having a dedicated float sends a message. It lets prospective employees know that an employer will value them, and won’t make them work outside of their preferred setting.

On top of that, working in float pools appeals to certain nurses, too. It offers the chance to work a more flexible schedule. It can also be a great way to focus on career development and acquiring important new skills.

How to Optimize Nursing Float Pool Models

Despite its benefits, though, managing an internal nursing float pool model presents its share of challenges. Finding nurses with this flexibility among existing staff can be difficult. And successfully managing them requires a different approach to oversight, engagement, feedback, and evaluation. In addition, employers must have the resources to keep a float pool employed even when it’s not actively needed.

For these reasons, many organizations choose to outsource their float pool management to third-party providers. This helps them implement a flexible external resource pool that delivers the benefits described above, plus a few others, like:  

  • Saving the time and expense of direct management
  • Utilizing technology for smarter deployment and scheduling
  • Leveraging data-driven insights to constantly improve efficiency and cost savings

Yet realizing all of these benefits requires finding the right partner! As one of the nation’s leading nurse staffing providers, we at CareerStaff specialize in offering healthcare workforce solutions that are customized to meet each provider’s unique needs.

Create Your Ideal Nursing Float Pool with CareerStaff

Ready to harness the benefits of nursing float pool models? At CareerStaff, we provide access to thousands of qualified, verified and credentialed nurses who are motivated and ready to work. What’s more, we work with you to ensure that your external nursing float pool is being utilized to its highest potential for the benefit of your organization.

Contact us today to learn more about how our Joint Commission-Certified workforce solutions can help you achieve the nurse floating pool models you need, or request staff now.

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