I work in radiology with a supervisor that only has three years of experience at the institution. She’s made a few changes to the department, which is expected. However, she has instituted cross training with PACU. First, the nurses were never trained before the reassignment process started. Also, she has plans to cross train the nurses in the cardiac cath lab. No one in the department wants to work there because the radiation exposure is higher. Can we be forced to sign new job functions and forced to work in that area?
This new cross training is only happening to the nurses in my department. We work short-handed if we have sick calls. Plus, no one gets pulled from the other departments where we are forced to work. This situation is really a change in title instead of function because that makes us a float pool — another title I did not sign up for.
Cross training is not a new concept in nursing practice. If done properly by the employer, it can be helpful when staffing is short in one area of the facility and staff can be pulled to that area to assist with patient care. However, cross training only should be initiated after all staff who participate are properly oriented to the new practice area and its unique features.
The radiation exposure you mention is important. Any orientation, training and education of staff going to the cardiac cath lab should include the proper use of protective shields, personal dose monitors and radiation monitoring, as examples, so their safety is not compromised.
This would be especially important for those nurses who may be pregnant. Hopefully, the facility has a radiation safety policy for pregnant nursing staff and that policy — and the overall management of the cardiac cath lab — is carried out by a cath lab radiation safety coordinator, in conjunction with the facility’s quality assurance department and the medical director of the cath lab.
It might be helpful for you and your colleagues who float to other areas to raise these concerns with the medical director and safety coordinator of the cath lab, your CNO, your supervisor and human resources. Asking for a meeting where all are present and issues can be discussed openly might help resolve some, or all, of the concerns. The float pool issue is one that only those in administration can evaluate.
Open lines of communication may lead to positive changes that you and your fellow nurses can live with.