we have hired agency occasionally. Most have written in their agreement that they will not float or get cancelled. If you are in a desired specialty (ICU, ED, PICU) you should have no problem finding work and have those statements in your contract. If you live in a large city you may not even have to travel.
I find it's like working as a per-diem: often feast or famine. And yes, as agency you are often one of the first to get cancelled.
That being said, some agencies will offer short- or long-term contracts to its employees. This pretty much guarantees your hours while under the contract....though if push came to shove, a cancellation could still happen.
I have worked for several different companies. It is true if you are per deim, you could get cancelled for low census. I work contract, so I am guarenteed 36 hrs (3 12hr shifts) every week. Contract can be 6 weeks to 13 weeks, and I am loving it.
Contract and travel are definitely different. When you do straight agency shifts, no hours are guaranteed except maybe 2 hours if you get all the way to the facility and get cancelled. Contract work can vary widely so make sure you agree with the terms. Travel contracts guarantee hours.
In my experience it depends on if you are a PRN employee filling in need for hospitals or if you get a contract ( usually 13 weeks assignments ) There is always the chance fo being cancelled as you are costing the hospital more money, when I have signed a contract in the past I haven't been cancelled at all
I work PRN for an agency and have only been canceled once, they have a lot of needs and I'm usually turning them down. I work with one nurse who drives quite a distance to work one shift a week at our hospital, she says they pay her so much (they give her a travel stipend too even though she is not under a travel contract, because of the mileage) that she only needs to work one day a week.
Keep in mine that if you work two days a week as an agency nurse, you might be making as much as you would three days a week full time as a staff nurse near the lower end of the pay scale.
Also always remember: They are billing the hospital twice (or more) what they are paying you. If they call and are desperate and really want you to work, ask for a bonus. You will get one!