We all know what Per Diem work as a nurse is all about, right?
After all, working Per Diem shifts probably began about a week after the first class of nursing students graduated from the New England Hospital for Women and Children back in 1873.
That being said, a lot has changed in the nursing and healthcare industries over the past decade, and with it, so has the reality of working Per Diem. Qualified nurses have never been in higher demand. Workforce shortages, geographic mismatches of nurse supply and demand, an aging population, and increased focus on the quality of care have altered the mindset of how today’s healthcare administrators and hiring managers think about their staffing plans.
As a result, the world of Per Diem work has also changed. With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to put to rest some of those lingering myths around Per Diem nursing.
MYTH #1: Per Diem work is just a way to earn a little extra money or get you by while looking for a new position.
True and false. Yes, working Per Diem assignments is a great way to earn extra money, whether you’re making extra money on your days off or looking for new opportunity. In fact, there’s not a better way to find your next healthcare home than to first work there on an assignment and see how you like them.
But today, Per Diem work has become a career option all unto itself. The multitude of job opportunities, the attractive pay packages, the freedom it provides, the ability to select the shifts and settings, and so many other benefits lead many nurses to turn to Per Diem work as a new, improved way to create a career path.
MYTH #2: As a Per Diem nurse, your schedule is at the mercy of the agency, and the recruiter, you work with.
Wrong. In fact, one of the most appealing aspects of working Per Diem is the control it gives you over the assignments you accept. Setting, location, shift, pay…you can decide whether a particular job is right for you or not. Obviously, not every assignment is going to give you everything you want, but given the demand for nurses today, your agency should be able to work with you to find opportunities that match your work requirements and your lifestyle needs.
What is true about this myth is that the nurse staffing agency you work with plays a huge roll in your success working Per Diem. Not all agencies are the same. You want to take the time to find an agency you feel comfortable with and that is large enough to have a steady supply of attractive work opportunities. You also need to have a good rapport with your recruiter, someone who understands your needs and will work hard to find you what you want.
If you’re in an area that has limited agency options, you might also consider working with two or three staffing companies in order to have the number and type of opportunities you need to stay busy.
Myth #3: Healthcare organizations look down on Per Diem nurses and treat them poorly.
In today’s healthcare world, where finding good nurses is a challenge for almost every healthcare organization around. No facility can afford to have that kind of old-school mentality.
Most organizations recognize the critical role a Per Diem nurse plays in the successful delivery of quality care, and use Per Diem nurses on a regular basis. They are accustomed to new people being there and have developed ways to get people up to speed and part of the team quickly. They appreciate the skills, experience and support that a Per Diem nurse brings to the floor, and work hard to make a nurse’s time there a positive experience.
In those instances where that is not the case, and for varying reasons which can happen from time-to-time, your solution is only a phone call away. If working with a reputable staffing agency, your recruiter will not only want to know, but will also work to find a positive solution to the problem.
Myth #4: If you work as a Per Diem nurse for long, it’s harder to get hired by a healthcare facility down the road.
Maybe this was true a decade or two ago, but certainly not anymore. In fact, working as a Per Diem nurse gives you some huge advantages should you decide to move back to a more traditional full-time job.
To begin with, working Per Diem almost always means working in a wide variety of settings. You’re exposed to a lot of different processes, systems and experiences. As a result, you have probably made yourself more attractive to employers. The more you know, and the more you are exposed to, the more valuable you become as your skill sets grow.
Working Per Diem also helps you develop your interpersonal skills as well. You are accustomed to meeting new people, building relationships quickly and adjusting to change. Those are traits you will take with you to any new job, and qualities any healthcare facility would love to add to their staff.
Myth #5: Per Diem nurses don’t get benefits.
Wrong, but you do need to do some comparison shopping when talking to nurse staffing agencies. Almost all of your top agencies offer a benefits program of some kind. The best ones will offer a package that accounts for the realities of working Per Diem.
The key to most benefits, particularly health insurance, will be how many hours you work for them per week or per month. Requirements differ by agency and the carrier they use, but almost all have a minimum of some kind. That means you want to find an agency who is working with enough organizations to be able to keep you working as much as you want to work. You don’t want to lose benefits eligibility because they don’t have enough jobs for you.
Beyond insurance, you should be able to find an agency providing other perks and benefits that are unaffected by changes in your work load. Though you probably won’t find anyone who offers them all, these might include a mix of offerings such as referral bonuses, paid time-off programs, recognition programs, discount programs and others. Again, do your homework.
There has never been a better time to consider working as a Per Diem nurse. By understanding what to expect, and building a relationship with two or three reputable nurse staffing agencies, you not only can make great money and advance your career, but enjoy doing it.