Whether you are just beginning your nursing career or have years of experience, finding the right employment situation is a daunting task. In nursing, you can work full-time as a salaried nurse, you can work part-time, you can work for an agency, or you can supplement your full-time salary with agency gig-work.
There are many factors that should be considered when deciding whether or not working for a nursing agency makes sense for you.
Benefits of Agency Nursing
Working for a nursing agency gives you more freedom in your schedule, choosing where you work, and what days you have off. These pros of being a per diem nurse may outweigh any of the cons.
A nurse working 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.
You get to pick when and where you want to work. Need two weeks off? No problem. Need a change of scenery? That is an option as well. Per diem nursing makes it possible and easy to balance work and home life effectively. You pick your schedule and control your time.
Take workplace politics off your radar. You show up, save the day, 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.
If you get curious about what else is out there or just need to do something a little different without actually 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.
More Patient Focus
You will 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.
You learn to adjust to new locations and demographics quickly. While you may lack consistent relationships with coworkers or patients – you will learn to connect, communicate, and care for individuals without difficulty.
Helps Other Nurses
Per diem nurses make it possible for hospitals to be adequately staffed at all times so that 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 the workers.
As you work with a nurse staffing agency, you get to know the recruiters helping you pick up shifts and work the hours that are best for you. 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 will 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 while a per diem nurse likely does not. You will likely need to source your own insurance, which can become quite costly. You will need to create a financial plan that allows a comfortable retirement.
There’s a certain comfort that comes with a routine. When partnered with a nursing agency you are 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 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.
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.
More “First Days”
As an agency nurse, you might get to experience the 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 are able to pick up similar shifts at the same facility, having more “first days” will be your new normal.
Choosing whether to work for a nursing agency is a personal choice, and there’s no right choice 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.