Wouldn’t it be great if you could make your own schedule, not work weekends, or holidays, and take vacation whenever you wanted to? Wouldn’t it be even more awesome if you could have all of these perks plus work close to home and earn a salary that is twice the going rate for your position? Well if you are currently a nurse or interested in the nursing field, then you should know that all of the above is possible when you work as an agency nurse.
What is an agency nurse?
Agency nurses are employed by staffing agencies. They provide coverage to hospitals and other healthcare facilities on a temporary and as needed basis. They can work in a variety of settings and they perform the same duties that are required of a regular staff nurse. Agency nurses can work full time or part time and usually make their own schedules. The staffing agency that the nurse works for will determine the degree of flexibility the nurse has, but many will allow them to choose their preferred shift as well as their preferred locations. Because of this, these nurses are usually not required to work weekends, evenings, or holidays, but if they do, many agencies will provide them with extra pay.
How much does an agency nurse make?
On average, agency nurses earn double the base pay of a regular staff nurse for that specialty. So if the base salary for a staff RN is $20 per hour, the agency nurse will earn around $40 per hour. The salary largely depends on the nurse’s geographical location, specialty, and most importantly which agency they are employed with. It is important to keep in mind that most agencies do not offer benefits like health insurance, paid time off, or retirement.
Why should I consider working for an agency?
Agency nursing is the perfect job for nurses who want to go back to school to further their education, who have full time jobs but want to supplement their income, or who just desire a more flexible schedule so that they can spend more time with their families. The nice thing about working for an agency is that if you find the right one, you will have unlimited opportunities to work as many shifts as you’d like. If you wanted to, you could work seven shifts in a row and earn overtime pay for that week so that you could take the whole next week off; or you could create a “normal” schedule where you work the same days each week.
What are the requirements to work for an agency?
Most agencies will only hire nurses that have a minimum of 1 year of experience, and the experience will need to be in a role/setting that is the same or similar to the setting that the agency nurse is providing coverage. Additional requirements are the same as those needed to work as a staff nurse.
What are the downsides of working for an agency?
Since agency nurses are more expensive to compensate, hospitals and healthcare facilities try to only use them when absolutely necessary. This means that as an agency nurse, you may run into situations where your shifts get cancelled or shortened when the facilities try to save money. Another downside is that if you want to work full time hours, you will likely have to be willing to work in a variety of settings and have open availability of your schedule. If you are only available to work certain days of the week, this will reduce the likelihood of you getting consistent hours.
Another potential downside is having to learn the various processes of different nursing units, which will usually slow down your workflow until you have gotten used to that facility. Some agency nurses may also feel as though they are not a part of the team since they are not employed directly by the healthcare facility; and may not have bonds with the other staff members.
What is the difference between agency and travel nursing?
For the most part these are one in the same. Agency nurses usually work in different facilities within the local metropolitan area that they reside in. Travel nurses also have the option to work outside of their geographical location. As a travel nurse, if you do work in a different state you may be required to hold additional nursing licenses, which are usually covered by the agency you work for. Additionally, the agency will cover your housing, travel expenses, and sometimes your meals.
How long are the agency assignments?
They can be as short as a partial shift covering a few hours, or contracts that extend for months.
What should I do if I want to work as an agency nurse?
Make sure you work in a specific specialty (such as the ER, Med-Surg, or ICU) for at least one year. You can search online job boards or perform a google search to locate a local nurse staffing agency. They are not hard to find! Once you locate one simply apply, submit your credentials, give them your availability, and start working!
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About the Author
Hi I’m Salimah Jones, I am a Family Nurse Practitioner, author, and Founder of The Nursing Guide, an online community dedicated to helping aspiring and current nurses overcome life’s challenges to achieve their professional goals. Coming from a disadvantaged background, and having experienced the struggles of pursuing a career while working and raising a family, I am now dedicated to helping others find ways to make their dreams a reality. I provide practical solutions to help those who are struggling with finances, learning difficulties, motivation, work-life-balance, or lack of a social support system. I want to show you how to conquer any challenge so that you can become your own success story. Please subscribe to this blog and don’t forget to sign up for your free membership on The Nursing Guide Website. Connect with me on twitter @salimahjones.