nurse staffing

Pros & Cons of Working for a Nursing Agency

Whether you are just beginning your nursing career or you already have years of experience, finding the right job can still be a daunting task. 

An incredible benefit of the field of nursing is that it has so many options, not only in the number of specialties and environments, but in how much you work and pick up shifts. You can work full-time, part-time, or as needed (PRN) in a variety of health care facilities. 

Additionally, you can work with a health care staffing agency, which lets you pick up short-term contracts or shifts that fit your schedule and job needs. Even if you’re already working full-time, you can pick up shifts through an agency on the side to broaden your skills or make more money.

There are many factors that you should consider when deciding whether or not working for a nursing agency makes sense for you. 

If agency nursing sounds like an option for you, apply with Clipboard Health today to start picking up shifts at facilities near you.

Benefits of Agency Nursing

There are many benefits of working with nursing agency. For one, it gives you more freedom in your schedule, because it allows you to choose when and where you work and what days you have off.

Read on to find out more about why agency nursing might be the best option for you.

Generous Pay

A nurse who works per diem tends to make a higher hourly wage than a traditional full-time salaried nurse, because the employer is not required to offer benefits. 

If you find yourself in a pinch for cash, most nursing agencies offer quick pay options that mean you can get paid either immediately or within hours after finishing a shift. 

Flexible Schedule

You get to pick when and where you want to work. Need two weeks off? No problem. Need a change of scenery? Nursing agencies contract with a variety of facilities, and depending on the size of the agency, there are almost always several facilities that are looking to have shifts filled at any given time. 

Per diem nursing makes it possible and easy to balance work and home life effectively. You pick your schedule and control your time. 

Less Stress

Take workplace politics off your radar. You show up, save the day, do your work, and then clock out. 

Interpersonal relationships that develop at work with coworkers, patients, or families can become catalysts of stress for many nurses. By working as a per diem nurse, you’ll be able to remain in neutral territory, and if there’s a particular facility that you don’t quite vibe with, then you don’t have to go back.

Variety 

If you get curious about what else there is out there, or you just need to do something a little different without quitting your full-time job, a nursing agency may be the answer. 

Burnout is a real threat for nurses. Per diem shifts allow nurses to minimize the risk of emotional and physical exhaustion while also developing new skills and offering their minds a change of pace.

More Patient Focus

Most of the time, you’ll actually get to spend your time focused on patient care. Supervising others, counting inventory, and other mundane tasks are less likely to be on your list of duties as a shift nurse. 

Adaptability 

You learn to adjust to new locations and demographics quickly. While you may lack consistent relationships with coworkers or patients, you learn to connect, communicate, and care for individuals quickly and without difficulty.

Helps Other Nurses

Per diem nurses make it possible for hospitals to be adequately staffed at all times. That means quality patient care is always provided. When a health care facility is short-staffed, it shows, and this is not good for the facility, the patients, or your fellow health care professionals. 

Relationships 

As you work with a nurse staffing agency, you get to know the recruiters helping you pick up shifts. They learn your history, your strengths, your interests, and other important information about you that can help you find the absolute best job fit. 

This creates a space where you can ask questions, voice concerns, and gain advice when needed. Working with a nurse staffing agency gives you a support system you can contact day or night.

Opportunities to Diversify 

If you thrive on learning new skills, a nursing agency will offer you the opportunity to move around and experience multiple health care environments. Diversifying your skills as a nurse tends to provide greater job satisfaction and increased job security.

Drawbacks of Agency Nursing

Agency nursing isn’t for everyone, of course. When you choose this type of nursing lifestyle, you have to be on top of your agency’s calendar to make sure you get enough shifts, and you might be walking into a facility that has a low nurse-to-patient ratio.

No Guaranteed Paycheck

If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. A simple reality of working per diem is that you aren’t working for a salary, so you don’t get paid time off. 

Benefits & Retirement — It’s Up to You 

A full-time salaried nurse likely has benefits and retirement options. Most of the time, a per diem nurse does not. You will likely need to source your own insurance, which can become quite costly. You’ll also need to create a financial plan that allows for you to develop a comfortable retirement. 

Less Predictable

There’s a certain comfort that comes with a routine. When partnered with a nursing agency, you’re not guaranteed or able to predict shifts. 

If your situation would benefit from a structured work schedule, full-time employment might be a better option for you.

You Might Be an Outsider 

As an agency nurse, you might not always feel welcome at your assignments. Other nurses on your shift will be unaware of your skillset and personality, and it might take a majority of your shift to prove your worth. Doctors tend to gravitate toward their regular nurses and not a new face. Salaried nurses may have a distaste for agency nurses because their presence may seem like a threat. 

Fewer Relationships 

While rotating shifts and facilities helps prevent the burnout that some nurses are accustomed to, it also makes it difficult to create relationships with your patients. Many nurses appreciate navigating the healing process along with their patient from beginning to end. 

Depending on the facility and the reason that it’s using a nursing agency to fill shifts, you might be able to pick up multiple shifts at the same location. In those cases, it might be easier to develop such relationships with patients, but shift availability like that is never a guarantee. 

More “First Days”

As an agency nurse, you might get to experience those first-day-of-work jitters more frequently than you’d like. With each new shift, you’ll likely get an introduction to procedures and protocols for that specific facility. You’ll learn where supplies are and experience the working culture of the facility. Unless you’re able to pick up similar shifts at the same facility, having many “first days” will be your new normal.

Choosing whether to work for a nursing agency is a personal choice, and there’s no right answer for everyone. The drawbacks may be too much for you, or they could be minor annoyances that are easy to overlook. Nurse staffing agencies can make it easy to find stable work, offer excellent compensation, and provide schedule flexibility.

If using a nurse staffing agency feels like the right fit for you, apply at Clipboard Health today to learn more about employment opportunities in your area.