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What Is a Nurse Staffing Agency and Is It Right for You?

Health care staffing agencies connect prospective workers with open positions at a variety of facilities. This can be a great option for existing nurses looking to add overtime shifts to their schedules or pick up part-time work. By working with a staffing agency, you don’t have to do the legwork of finding the right facility or employer. You’ll simply be matched to open jobs. There are many perks of nurse staffing agencies, but they’re not for everyone. Here’s everything you should know about using a nurse staffing agency, and whether it’s right for you.

What Is a Nurse Staffing Agency?

Nursing staffing agencies connect prospective workers with hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, schools, and other types of health care facilities. They serve as a middleman between employers and prospective employees looking to work a more flexible full-time schedule or pick up overtime or part-time work. As an agency, it works directly with facilities so when there is a worker shortage, they can immediately fill spots. These agencies will contact you via email, phone call, or text when an open shift is available that’s applicable to your schedule and field, and more modern agencies will have an app where you can view and choose open shifts yourself.

Nurse staffing agencies oftentimes provide account managers you can work directly with. This can allow you to communicate availability, career goals, and anything else you’re looking to get out of your relationship with your staffing agency. This can be particularly helpful as your situation changes. If, for example, you need to decrease your number of shifts per week, or you need more work as quickly as possible, working with an account manager can help you reach your career goals as they shift.

Types of Placements

Nurse staffing agencies provide flexible employment options for part-time and overtime-seeking nurses. This flexibility not only comes in terms of overall schedule but also through different types of nursing jobs.

Per Diem/Pro Re Nata

While these two types of placements are similar, there is one major distinction. Per diem or per-day, shifts are for nurses looking for ad-hoc shifts they can pick up when and where they want to work. While you may not be guaranteed hours, you can generally choose when and at which facility you want to work at. Facilities will request per diem staff when they get last-minute shift cancellations or have other immediate staffing demands. Pro re nata, or as needed, shifts are for specific nurses that need to meet employment criteria in order to remain at pro re nata status. This often means working holidays or weekends.

Travel Nursing

This type of placement moves nurses to different geographic locations where jobs are needed. Agreements are short term, with six weeks usually being the maximum contract length. Because the location is flexible, travel nursing can provide a dynamic experience for nurses willing to move around the country for short periods of time. It can also provide a wide range of experience to prospective nurses looking to build their careers.

Temp-To-Perm or Permanent

Temp-to-perm contracts are exactly what they sound like: temporary nursing positions that eventually blossom into full-time gigs. This is oftentimes a great opportunity for nurses to test out a new area, facility, or working situation before being hired full time. If you work with an agency that specializes in permanent placement, they’ll likely take a percentage fee of what you’re offered. This is usually 20-25% of your annual salary.

International Staffing Agencies

This nursing opportunity starts on a contract basis with an agency until nurses are transitioned to full-time roles with the hospital or facility where they’re working. The fees for international nurse staffing agencies can oftentimes be much lower compared to travel nursing agencies. There are various certifications to be aware of when finding the right international staffing agency, like the American Association of International Recruitment.

When to Use Nurse Staffing Agencies

While nurse staffing agencies can be an advantageous option for finding the right nursing gig, it’s important to understand what else nurse staffing agencies have to offer.

Maintain Resume

Working with nursing staffing agencies can be a great way to maintain your resume while you take a break from full-time nursing employment. Nursing can be a difficult career to juggle with a family, other career aspirations or other educational endeavors. By working with a nurse staffing agency, you can pick up shifts on an on-going basis to maintain consistency in your resume and further build out your experience.

Add Variety to Your Career

Nursing can be a tedious career. By adding shifts at different hospitals and facilities, you can add variety to your career as a health care professional. You can work with new nurses and doctors, and see different types of patients compared to your day-to-day employment situation. It can also be a great way to test out other types of nursing that you may be interested in pursuing.

Break into the Industry

For recently graduated health care professionals, working with a nursing staffing agency can allow you to pick up shifts and gain experience as a new professional. Depending on how you connect with the other nurses and facility management, you may be able to build relationships, network, and turn a temporary gig into a full-time position.

Get Paid Well and Quickly

Pay for temporary nursing assignments tends to be very good, so if you find yourself in a situation where you need money fast, it may be in your best interest to pick up a few temporary shifts with a nurse staffing agency. Especially during difficult financial times or before a major life decision that requires financial security. Signing up for temporary shifts can be the best way to get cash quickly.

Achieve More Flexibility

One of the biggest advantages of being a nurse is having schedule flexibility. Nursing is not a typical nine-to-five career. This is especially true if you’re looking to pick up additional shifts on your normal workweek.

Increase Your Network

Modern nursing staffing agencies like Clipboard Health provide a lot of benefits to nurses, regardless of what stage of your career you’re in. Temporary nursing shifts will allow you to connect with other nurses, doctors, and health care staff. That means you’ll be expanding your network as a health care provider, and you’ll be setting up a strong foundation for your career.

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