Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Obstetric Float Nurse Role Redesign in a Small Rural Community Hospital

Fye, Paula RNC-OB; Nellis, Deborah L. DNP, RN, LNCC

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: May/June 2013 - Volume 38 - Issue 3 - p 157–162
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e31828671e5

Purpose: The purpose of this process improvement project in a rural community hospital with a small volume perinatal service was to foster a cooperative working environment between the obstetric and medical–surgical nursing teams and promote quality nursing care by evaluating, revising, and clearly defining the obstetric float nurse role.

Scope of the Problem: Members of the obstetric and medical–surgical nursing team were convened to evaluate the obstetric float nurse role and develop plans for improvement. Nurses from both units participated in a written survey before and after the project was completed. Based on issues identified from review of the surveys and group discussion, a guideline was developed that defined the expectations and responsibilities of the obstetric float nurse on the medical–surgical unit.

Result: The redesigned obstetric float nurse role helped nurses of both units understand the expectations and responsibilities of the obstetric float nurse and promoted better working relationships. An additional benefit was improved communication regarding care and needs of the medical–surgical patients.

Clinical Implications: Clearly defined obstetric float nurse guidelines were successful in our small rural community hospital and may be of benefit to other similar volume perinatal units.

When the perinatal unit is closed in small rural hospitals, perinatal nurses are often asked to float to the medical surgical unit so they can be as helpful as possible while remaining in-house to be available should a pregnant woman present for care.

Paula Fye is a Nurse Manager, Obstetrics Unit, Punxsutawney Area Hospital, Punxsutawney, PA. The author can be reached via e-mail at

Deborah L. Nellis is an Interim Clinical Educator, Women's Services, Lovelace Women's Hospital, Albuquerque, NM.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved