Healthcare float pool nurses walk through hospital hallway.

Historically, floating shifts in healthcare involved moving – or “floating” – in-house nursing staff to other areas of the facility that were short staffed. These floating shifts were often viewed negatively and seen as disruptive to nursing teams and a nurse’s typical work schedule. 

That meaning – and negativity –is changing in the wake of the pandemic. Hospitals and health systems across the country are experiencing significant staffing issues in nursing. At the same time, nurses are seeking more flexibility and control over their schedules.  

At the intersection of open shifts and nursing flexibility are healthcare labor pools, or float pools, which are gaining in popularity as a way to solve today’s healthcare staffing crisis.    

What is a Healthcare Float Pool? 

A healthcare labor pool or float pool is a group of skilled nurses and other healthcare support staff that can be called in to cover shifts that the standard in-house nurse staffing aren’t able to cover, such as maternity leave, sick days, or when the facility is experiencing higher patient loads. Typically, people in healthcare labor pools are not employed by the facility, but they can be hospital employees who have elected to be part of the hospital’s float pool. They are paid as outside contractors or are employees of alternative staffing solutions like ShiftMed.  

Today’s nursing float pools offer accountable healthcare staffing that benefit everyone involved, including hospitals and health systems, the in-house nursing staff, nurses in the float pool, and ultimately the patients, who receive better patient care from a fully staffed facility.   

Benefits of a Healthcare Labor Pool 

Hospitals and healthcare systems can solve many of their staffing challenges and save on labor costs by building a dependable healthcare labor float pool.  

Cover Open Shifts in the Moment 

Life happens, even for nurses. They get sick. They have family obligations. They want to go on vacation. With a healthcare labor pool of nurses and other hospital support staff, open shifts can be covered in the moment they are needed.  

Support In-House Teams 

With ready access to a pool of skilled nurses, in-house teams won’t have to be floated to other departments as frequently – or at all. Inhouse teams can also build connections with the people in the regular float pool because they are seen more frequently than traditional temp workers. Making connections at work leads to better teamwork, a more enjoyable work environment, and improved patient care.  

Save Costs on Skilled Labor 

Facilities with a dependable float pool don’t have to hire more staff at times of increased demand, which may have to be furloughed when demand falls. They also don’t have to rely on costly travel nurses to fill short-term needs.  

What’s the Benefit to Nurses?  

There are many skilled nurses that don’t want to work full time or be a regular employee of a hospital or healthcare facility for a variety of reasons. But, they still want to use their experience and skills doing what they enjoy.  

Historically, nurses who didn't want full-time gigs turned to travel nursing, but there are many downsides to doing that, especially for nurses that have families or who want to work at facilities close to their homes.  

By joining a float pool, nurses have flexibility and control over their schedules. They can choose which facilities and shifts to work based on their personal schedule and location preference. They also benefit from building connections with the in-house team when they fill in regularly at the same facilities.  

Building Your Healthcare Labor Pool  

For hospitals and healthcare facilities that want to take advantage of a dependable labor pool, the first place to start is with the resources you already have. Nurses who are thinking about leaving because they want more flexibility or for other personal reasons are the perfect candidates to become part of your float pool. Don’t let that talent go! With ShiftMed’s workforce solutions, you can leverage "Powered by ShiftMed" to run your own, private-label technology platform to manage your internal and external resources seamlessly. This turnkey, internal resource manager allows you to seamlessly engage your full-time workforce and float pools with innovative tools that help reduce reliance on external agencies and travel nurses, resulting in lower labor costs and increased retention rates. Picture this—your entire workforce in one system with the same innovative analytics we use to manage over 350,000 workers.  

After you’ve rebalanced your internal staff, you can tap into ShiftMed’s workforce marketplace to fill in the gaps. We hire fully-credentialed, ready-to-work nurses as W-2 employees. Through the ShiftMed nursing app, healthcare facilities can tap into this workforce marketplace as-needed. You simply add your RN labor pool jobs to the app, and skilled nurses can pick up the open shifts. 

Because ShiftMed hires nurses as W-2 employees, you don’t have to track invoices and payments to contract workers or send 1099s, reducing payroll headaches and back office costs. Not to mention, removing the legal liability and risk that comes with misclassification of 1099 workers. If you’re concerned that a workforce marketplace means just another platform you’ll have to use, don’t worry! ShiftMed also integrates with HR tools like UKG to streamline and automate HR functions, including timecard oversight.  

Request a personalized demo to see how you can build your healthcare labor pool with available nurses in your area.