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Can I refuse to be floated to the ED without ACLS certification and refuse to take a turn as charge nurse for my unit?

Monday November 19, 2012
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Dear Donna,

Can my hospital float me to the ED hold without advanced cardiac life support certification, and require I take telepatients? Can I refuse those patients?

Also, my hospital asked for volunteers to be charge nurse for our unit. I did not volunteer, but was told I have to take my turn. Can I refuse?

Floating RN

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Floating RN,

You don't mention what your primary specialty is, but in the absence of a written employment contract to the contrary, an employer generally has the right to float a nurse to any area where it is deemed they are generally qualified to work. Of course "generally qualified" can be subjective. Also, one does not need to be ACLS certified to work in the ED or work with telepatients.

Regarding taking your turn as charge nurse, that is something individual to your department. If everyone is taking a turn at it, then your refusal to do so could appear to be insubordination or lack of team support. This would not bode well for you on your annual review or with your co-workers, and could even put your job in jeopardy. You could look at it as an opportunity to personally challenge yourself and enhance your skill set, rather than staying in your comfort zone.

I would suggest you consult a nurse attorney for further clarification of these issues and to be clear about your rights.

However, it seems there is more going on here under the surface. You seem very unhappy and resentful. Are your co-workers feeling the same way and do they have the same issues? In other words, is this a systemwide problem or is it a personal thing? You might want to discuss your situation with a trusted friend or colleague, or even an RN career coach, to give you better perspective and clarity on this issue.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.