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Temporary Reassignment

Licensed nurses are accountable for the care they provide and must have the appropriate knowledge and skills before accepting assignments or responsibilities. Accepting an assignment and providing care without the appropriate knowledge and skills places both the recipient of the care and the licensed nurse in jeopardy.

The Board of Nursing encourages employers to take steps to provide adequate orientation and cross-training before reassigning licensed nurses to areas outside of their usual work assignment. Such orientation and cross-training must occur prior to the expected reassignment. If the census requires that nurses “float” to unfamiliar clinical settings, the nurse must be assigned to work with another licensed nurse who has the requisite knowledge and skills to provide the specialized care.

The Board of Nursing interprets the Nurse Practices Act (N.D.C.C. 43-12.1) to clearly indicate that the licensed nurse must refuse to accept assignments for which he/she does not have the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver safe care. The Board further believes that the employing agency has an obligation to ensure that the clients within the agency’s domain are cared for by competent practitioners and must make appropriate provisions for orientation and cross-training if experience has shown that temporary reassignments will be necessary.



American Nurses Association. (2005). Utilization guide for the ANA “Principles for nurse staffing”. Silver Spring, MD: Author.

ANA (2009). Patient safety: rights of registered nurses when considering a patient assignment (Position Statement). Silver Spring, MD: Author. 

Clarke SP & Donaldson NE. (2008). Chapter 25. Nurse staffing and patient care quality and safety. 2-111 – 2-135. 

Joint Commission. (2012).

Texas Board of Nursing. (2009). FAQ-“Floating” to unfamiliar practice settings. 

New York State Nurses Association. (2007). NYSNA position statement. Floating. 


Adopted: 7/87
Reviewed/Revised: 10/12