The Truth About Per Diem Nursing
Updated: Mar 25
By Molly Harris
There are many great aspects to a career in nursing. You get to help people, you get to meet people, and since nurses are needed across the United States, you have the opportunity to work just about anywhere you want. But one oft-overlooked advantage of nursing careers is the opportunity to schedule your career around your life. That's exactly what per diem nursing provides. If you want or need to schedule your own working hours, but still earn a good salary, then this type of non-contract job may be the ideal career choice for you. With daily nurse jobs there is an opportunity to partner with medical staffing agencies and work in temporary assignments at hospitals and clinics. RNs that sign on for these nursing positions may sometimes work on-call and will typically be scheduled week to week. A per diem nurse will also be responsible for any last-minute requests to fill in for sick hospital staff or for those who simply can't make it to work. In some cases, someone with a per diem nursing position won't be called in until the day he or she is needed. And there may be no guarantee that the per diem nurse will be called at all. Some assignments can be part-time and some can be full-time. In other words, per diem nursing is a good career choice for nurses who can remain flexible. Choosing a day-by-day nursing career doesn't necessarily mean that a nurse has to work at a single hospital, either. Those involved in per diem nursing careers can work at several different hospitals within a single area. Someone in a per diem nursing job also has the option of taking on preferred specialty roles-as a critical-care nurse, for example, or they can choose to work in more general per diem nursing roles. Per diem nursing is often described as shopping for nursing shifts. Those who work on a daily basis can choose to work shifts that are as regular or as irregular as they like. For those that love to travel, that can be a big plus. By being able to set their own hours, the weeks that they are available to work, per diem nurses can plan for short or extended vacations far more easily than those working on a regular schedule. Per diem nursing offers a taste of adventure that may not be available to nurses with full-time jobs at a hospital or clinic. It's a good resource for nurses who haven't quite found their niche or specialty area. The opportunity to work in clinics and hospitals of all different sizes and the opportunity to discover what it's like in new departments makes finding that right nursing specialty easier than ever. Others who can benefit from per diem nursing careers include new moms and nurses close to retirement. Per diem nursing is also an excellent choice for nurses who are taking continuing education classes and other nurses who don't want to work full time, but want to work intermittent shifts in order to keep their experience current. In some cases, per diem nursing gives nurses the chance to test a hospital in order to get a feel for the work culture and environment before signing on for a permanent position. While per diem nursing can be a good part-time job and a career booster for a wide range of people, it's not for everyone. Taking a per diem job means nurses may be scheduled to work in several different hospitals within a single week, which means dealing with several different hospital systems, different doctors, and different colleagues. While those with per diem nursing positions have some control over how many different situations they have to deal with, it's still important for every per diem nurse's well-being to be comfortable in their position as a temporary staff member. While flexibility is a crucial trait for people pursuing per diem nursing careers, they can look forward to being well-compensated. Those working with a good medical staffing agency that places people in per diem positions can make $30 to $40 per hour. And those willing to take daily nursing positions during late-night shifts or in intensive care can make as much as $50 an hour. The best medical staffing agencies can also place those with per diem jobs in positions that offer an inclusive benefits package, which may include health insurance and a retirement plan. A good medical staffing agency will only want the most qualified per diem nurses representing them that includes a thorough registration process is usually required. Basic qualifications for per diem positions include an RN license, one year of critical-care experience, good references, and good credentials. Those pursuing per diem nurse positions should also have up-to-date immunizations. Competency tests may also be distributed by medical staffing agencies looking to place per diem nurses. Initially, nurses that have several specialties will likely be offered with a wider choice of available positions. That's especially true for nurses who have experience in critical-care assignments. The per diem nursing jobs in highest demand are the positions that experience the largest number of shortages, which include positions in cardiac care, intensive care and in the emergency room. Many of those who decide to pursue per diem nursing positions find the variety of options exciting and engaging. For qualified nurses who want more freedom and more flexibility, nursing presents an unbeatable opportunity.
Molly Harris is the President and CEO at Advantage Medical Staffing, Inc. one of Texas' medical staffing companies which specializes in career placement for per diem nursing [http://www.advantagemedicalstaffing.com], allied professionals, and permanent placement nurse positions.
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