How do you know if Agency Nursing is for you?

  1. Hoping to get lots of replies!
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    You try it and if you like it, it's for you.:icon_smile:
  4. by   nightingale
    It is a very personal preference. You outweigh the pros and the cons. It is not for everyone but has been my preference for many years.
  5. by   LadyNASDAQ
    Quote from Fancy Face
    Hoping to get lots of replies!
    Actually, local agency with a contract is my favorite way to work. High salary, I get to sleep in my own bed and not concern myself about being elsewhere including whether I received all my mail or not. I am going to attempt to also land a per diem job at a facility that doesn't require a very strict committment which is one day per month. Between the two, I should be able to look at good income all around the calendar year. I am letting go 1 of my 6 licenses go but will hold onto my other 5 with me taking the extra required contact hours for now. I can not go on any travel contracts due to a sick Mom who suffered a stroke in Oct. so for me, I just know that I want to contract, take a break for a week between 13 week committments and breathe a bit. I need private health insurance and I would be all set from there.

    When you work local agency, you are like pseudo-staff. Travelers get the worst of it with lots of floating but the hospitals will treat a local agency Nurse much, much better. We have 2 travelers in the Unit I work in. They are the first to float. I have floated only once and it was an easier floor than where I'm working at presently.:spin:
  6. by   traumaRUs
    I have done agency nursing at various times in my career when I needed extra money. I loved it. I was an ER nurse for 10 years and would only go to the ER and I didn't float either. However, this was a personal choice. I liked it - it served a purpose and was lots of fun.
  7. by   ex1140
    Quote from Fancy Face
    Hoping to get lots of replies!
    I'm in the process of venturing into this area as well. I'm starting classes this year and I need flexibility. I would say agency work is great for nurses who have families or are attending school. We need the flexibility that some or most facilities do not offer. The pay is usually higher...however, the assignments can vary...depending on who you work for, you could be in a lot of different places every week. I will be asking for assignments that last for a few weeks or months. Some people don't mind working in 5 or 6 places in one week, but that would not be suitable for me. Like most areas of nursing...you have to try it out for yourself, and have some experience because a good agency will not hire you without it.
    Last edit by ex1140 on Feb 27, '07
  8. by   eddy
    For me, it goes something like this. My 5 reasons for (and against) working agency:
    1.) If you want flexibility in work schedules, agency is a plus. I like to go on a lot of vacations throughout the year. Sometimes, I may be gone for up to 20 days. A staff job really wouldn't work around MY schedule.
    2.) If you are able to budget and save, agency may be good for you. I make 40-60% more than those I work side by side with (not including occassional overtime that makes it even more percentage wise). However, there is always a risk that I might not get the hours I want in a given week (sometimes even when I came off of a prior week with all the overtime I could take). I am prepared though. I have a budget. I live as if I made "staff pay". This allows me to save a lot of money. I keep a certain amount of liquid cash in my money market account that earns about 4.5-5%. Much better than a savings account though not quite as good a return as other investments, but since I have access to it whenever I need it, it's a good trade off. This is my rainy day cash. I invest the rest of my money in various things... a work-based 401k, stocks, CD's and so forth. Because I have followed this model for about a decade now, I could retire any time I wanted to. I work now because I enjoy it and because I continue to build a fantastic retirement for myself. I couldn't get the same results from a staff job.
    3.) If you are flexible in "where and when", agency may be good for you. When I am not on vacation, I make myself available always. Of course, there are times when I have some other things planned, and I can't work. However, if for some reason things get a little slow, I make it clear to my staffers that I am available, and if they call based on my availability I TAKE THE SHIFT! A lot of agency nurses fail to understand the importance of honoring your availability that you report to the staffers. If you cry wolf too many times, they'll quit calling, and for good reason... They can't depend on you.
    4.) If you approach agency work like you are self-employed, agency can work for you. Ultimately, you are responsible for your success in the agency world. Always leave a good impression with the facilities you go to. Make it known that you are excited to return and that you're available for more upcoming shifts. Don't be pushy just enthusiastic. You want to be REQUESTED when they have openings. I have worked with many nurses that I would consider more skilled than me, but due to my enthusiasm and willingness to go over and beyond, I am requested over them. You have to market yourself, and this is how you do it. Also, work on developing solid relationships with your staffers. Be honest with them. It's truly a "you pat my back I'll pat yours" kind of relationship. Make sure you're patting.
    5.) If you like variety and can handle jumping into an often very heavy workload when staff may be quite short, overworked and grumpy, agency may be for you. Not everyone likes this situation. You may be at hospital A today, hospital B tomorrow and hospital C the next day. Can you handle working that way? Some like it, some don't. For me, it's great, but it is defenitely not everyone's cup of tea.


    Hope that helps.
  9. by   CRNI-ICU20
    I loved agency nursing....
    It gave me a chance to meet other people, other great nurses....and experience their way of doing things...
    You have to be flexible....easy going....and willing to do extra if asked....
    it's good money....but there's never any two days or two times at work alike....so if you like constant change....and different environments all the time....go for it....
    It's great experience....and it is good to see how the rest of the world lives...
    Some of the nurses where I now work have worked their whole career at the same place....they have no clue how other nurses do things....and have., in my opinion, a tunnel view of nursing.....
    We have a wonderful profession.....get out there and experience it....
    how will you know if you really like something, if you don't have anything to compare it to???
  10. by   aussiemags
    I am an agency nurse in Australia and I couldnt agree with you more. You need to like constant change, be confident but be ready to ask for help, never be afraid to say "I'm not sure how to do this...".
    Its a fantastic way to update skills, and learn that you have more skills and expertise than you ever imagined. It is not for you if you like the chat, the gossipy stories, catching up on other people's news, footy pools and socialising as I find agency nursing to be fairly isolating at times. However for me that is a bonus, as I like to concentrate on what I am doing. And I've worked for too many years to be interested in chit-chat and office politics. I find I am a better nurse as an agency nurse because I have to concentrate much harder, and I tend to spend more time with my patients than with the staff.
    Anyway, try it for a while and see how you go. You might be pleasantly surprised, and its no problem if you do try it and dont like it - at least that's information. Good luck with whatever you choose.
  11. by   st4wb3rr33sh0rtc4k3
    Nice topic, sorry for reposting to a late one, but agency nursing is what I am looking for so I can work when I want. Some of the places that you get to work at don't even hire out here, so I hope I will get to see what it is like.

    I have over a year of Sub-Acute experience and a few months of Med/Surg, I want to do something different eventually. Most places only hire in specialties if you are experienced for a couple of years. It will be also nice to get to go back to school to get my BSN. It is nice that you can work the days you can work and get paid without having to do overtime.
  12. by   CA_ABQ
    I actually registered solely for the purpose of answering this question. I am not a nurse, I am a nurse recruiter who has worked for several agencies.

    Of course, what a person looks for in an agency depends on what their needs are, but, as an insider, I think you have to look at the following:

    1. Do they listen to what you say? If you tell them that you don't want to work step down, do they honor that or do they try to badger you into doing it?

    2. Are they responsive to your needs? If you tell them that you're in a financial pinch and need to work as many shifts as possible, do they come through for you?

    3. If you tell them that you're not available, do they call you anyway?

    4. If there's a problem with your paycheck, how quickly do they fix it?

    5. Are they honest and open with you? Did they lure you in with a $42/hour pay rate only to tell you later that it was a "starter rate"?

    6. If you showed up in their office, would they be happy to see you? Would they know who you are?

    My point is, that, when you work through an agency, you're being placed into hospitals (or other medical facilities) as an "outsider," so your agency should appreciate that and appreciate you.

    If your agency treats you like a valued employee and appreciates that you have choices and chose them, then I'd say they're a good agency. If they treat you like "product" and not their customer, I'd stop working for them.

    I actually worked for an agency where the VP would ask the nurses: "If your kid's sick, are you still going to come to work or will you flake out on us?" He also referred to our job as "pimping nurses". It was so disrespectful to the nurses.

    It takes a special person to be a nurse. Don't allow anyone to treat you with disrespect. You all have choices.
  13. by   CA_ABQ
    Geez, I think I missed the point--I thought you were asking how to chose an agency.

    I have thoughts on agency recruiting, too.

    The Pros:
    Salary - Agency nurses (if placed in hospitals) command a higher rate than direct employees. In ABQ, agency nurses at hospitals make about $35 - 42/hour, depending on shift and speciality.

    Flexibility - you chose when you want to work and you take vacations when you want to take them.

    Try before you buy - You get to sample the environment and the culture of an organization without committing beyond a shift.

    The Cons:
    In lots of places, the perm nurses are mean to the agency nurses and make them do the "dirty" work.

    Less Benefits - most agencies do offer benefits, but the cost is high and they aren't as generous as the packages that direct employers offer.

    No stability - If, for some odd reason, there's no work, there's no work.

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