Supplemental Nurses

Supplemental nurses are temporary staff hired from outside agencies by hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Floating nurses are staff who are assigned different units within the facility that they work for and “float” between units. The main advantage of these types of nurses is that they are a cost-effective means of preventing staff shortages within units (OʼConnor & Dugan, 2017). Disadvantages include lacking unit-specific skill competency, anxiety related to working outside of their regular environment, and an unfamiliarity with the unit’s dynamics and protocols, which could all culminate to compromised patient safety (OʼConnor & Dugan, 2017).

The aforementioned disadvantages may be especially noticeable in specific units, such as intensive care units. ICUs are characterized by enhanced monitoring, advanced life support, and care for the critically ill or injured (Marshall et al., 2017). If the floating/supplemental nurse is more accustomed to non-intensive care units, they may find that if they were to be assigned to an ICU, the specialized care for the high-acuity patients may be too challenging for them to provide, thus compromising patient safety. This is why ICUs may be particularly challenging for supplemental and floating staff.

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