I've owned my own business (a small/midsize accounting firm) and I've been an employee (accountant, financial analyst, controller... and yes a nurse).
I can say from experience that there are some very STRONG pro's and con's to both. The most important these days is health insurance. As a very small company or a company of ONE (independent contractor) you will find it very difficult and almost impossible to find health insurance that is within financial grasp. Obviously, if you have a spouse that works somewhere and can put you on their insurance this isn't a huge issue. However, if you must provide your own, seriously think about the costs. Also, you do not get any other "benefits" associated with being an "employee" of a larger company such as paid vacation, group retirement plans, liability umbrella insurance, work comp insurance, disability, scholarship reimbursements, and all the other stuff.
Of course, you will also pay BOTH portions of your taxes. Your employer covers half, but as your own "employer" you pay the whole thing.
Alas, it is generally the norm that IC's get lower bill rates than agencies do.
These factors can, and often do, eliminate the percieved
"better pay" of being an IC.
I'm not saying it is a bad thing to do. Not at all. I applaud the entrepreneurial spirit (I'm still a part time independent accountant)! All I am saying is that the perception some people have that agencies are ripping nurses off or causing you to make less as a nurse is simply not true.
The idea that hospitals are increasingly seeking IC's for staff shortages is also NOT true. Hospitals are ACTUALLY increasingly seeking "master vendor" contracts with large nationwide agencies that manage all of their agency staffing (as well as many other processes, systems and supplies in hospitals). As stated prior, All About Staffing (AAS), a subsidiary of HCA is one of the big ones. Like it or not, they aren't going away and will only grow bigger and grab more market share as time goes on. Hospitals are simply not interested in managing hundreds or even thousands of single IC contracts every year. It's a paperwork nightmare, a legal department fiasco, a staffing department impossibility and an accounts payable disaster!
With all of this said, should you choose to go the IC route, I bid you best of luck. There are some out there doing well at it, but fewer than you think.... the rest that say it's great merely want to sell you something.