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Diary, it depends on what kind of agency.. are you doing hospital staffing or private duty? I found that when i did private duty i had a couple of clients and usually had plenty of work and less chance of cancellation . If you are doing staffing then have a couple of different places on board so if one cancels you have the chance to make up the hours elsewhere. good luck!!mary
The best way to keep working consistently when you do agency work is to be with at least two agencies and keep in close contact with both. When you even get an inkling that you will need a new assignment then start calling, or if you have to, go to another agency and inquire there. It is much easier when you are doing home health long term clients. Usually there is a certain amount of stability there. But you still should be on good terms with at least two agencies, because you never know when cases will close around the same time, and you will have to compete with the other nurses to get a new case.
I've been working agency/travel for 2+ years now, averaging 9 months per location (Hawaii, Jacksonville, Orlando, DC). It helps to go with a larger company if you want a selection of different locations. However, if you want local only, you would best be served hooking up with a local agency, as they tend to have better connections with the facilities in your region.
Still, I've been in DC for nine months and have had no issue finding agency/travel work. You'll have better luck if you've in a larger metropolitan area and/or are flexible with where you want to work.
I've been with agencies full time since 1991, except for 3 years with Hospice. Keeping in contact with 2 agencies works well. Many times if 1 agency is slow, the other can pick up the slack. Sometimes, I can pick up a contract that will last a few weeks. All in all, I found agency work better than FT at a hospital, etc.. Though you don't get paid if you don't work, you do set your own hours and pick and choose your assignments. Once you have a good reputation established, places will call and request you too, which increases your standing with the agencies. Pay is better too, though that can be offset by periods of quiet. I like the freedom.
The greater number of types of units that you have experience with will make it easier for you to work steady for a longer period of time.
The more in demand the specialty is, the more work that you will be able to get.
Agency work is also seasonal for many locales, population increases at certain times of the year and decreases at other times. Always best to sign with a couple of agencies that staff at the facilities that you are interested in and then see who can give you the most work consistently.
I have worked agency exclusively for the past 19 yrs. I have worked for several at a time ( good idea) but now I work only for 1 (but am thinking about finding one more.... shifts are hit or miss right now) I love the fact that if I want time off for vacation or whatever, I can do it. I do work doubles, work a double today, leave at 11pm and come back tomorrow at 7am and stuff like that (earns you BIG brownie points with a facililty) and both that particular facility and my agency know that if they get a call off, they can call me after 5am and I usually can get dressed and be there before 7am. (also earns BIG points)
I'm in the Indianapolis area as well. What I've done is apply to two different agencies, although my one has been pretty good about keeping me full time. I have had some trouble with low census though. Also, the comment about experience with different specialties helps also! Good luck!