Exploring Nurses’ Feelings on Floating: A Phenomenological Study

Saturday, 18 March 2017: 8:00 AM

Marie-Paule M. Lafontant, EdD, MSN
Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute--Cardiac and Vascular care Unit, Baptist Health South Florida--South Miami Hospital, Miami, FL, USA


The purpose of the current study was to explore nurses’ lived experiences floating in an acute health care facility within a large southern city of the United States. Husserl’s transcendental approach assisted in capturing the essence of floating as a lived phenomenon occurring in the nurses’ natural work environment. Husserl (1970b/1901) addressed consciousness as the awareness of objects in the outer world translated into meaning. Karasek job demand-control (JDC) was the theoretical framework. The core concept of Karasek’s JDC is the effect of stress on workers. JDC encompasses a three-dimensional paradigm (affective strain, work overload, and control). JDC is a bi-dimensional model, which includes the concepts of job demand, job control, and their additive/multiplicative effects. The study data analysis was conducted using the NVivo 10 software and Giorgi’s six steps, reflecting Husserl’s descriptive transcendental phenomenology. The study purposive sample included eleven full-time staff male and female registered nurses who routinely float to other units. Participants described their feelings on floating during digitally recorded interviews based on three open-ended interview questions aligned with the research questions to address the research purpose. Six themes emerging from the data analysis were (1) workflow process, (2) patients care assignment, (3) work environment, (4) psychological components, (5) sociological factors, and (6) physiological needs. Nurses expressed concerns about their ability to deliver quality/safe patients care in areas different from their home unit. In this study, nurses recognized that they have to float for diverse reasons, a finding different from previous studies. A conclusive evidence from this study was that nurses are reluctant to float but will do so comfortably if there were some measures in place to ease the process. The recommendations included ideas for changes in floating based on the data analyzed from participants’ responses. With the predicted nursing shortage, leaders may want to consider reviewing their policy on floating. This initiative may prevent staff dissatisfaction, burnout, and costly turnover and enhance nurses’ recruitment and retention in health care organizations.