I am looking to start doing Per Diem work for local staffing agency(s) in my area. I currently have a full time Med Surge position and am going to do agency once a week or so, for extra money.
I have NO idea what to expect. I have never done agency before. In fact, I've only worked in one hospital, other than doing clinicals in other places back in nursing school. I have lots of questions and don't really know where to begin. Do you pretty much always get THROWN onto new units of new hospitals, or does someone at the agency kinda go over things with you, like what kind of patients that unit cares for, what kind of nursing structure (primary nursing? team nursing?), where their supplies are kept, a list of that hospital's policies, and so on?
Do you have to do a formal orientation kind of thing, with every hospital that you are sent to?
A lot of times, I know that agency nurses get paid the DAY that they work. Are taxes taken out of these paychecks?
My partner and I are really in need of some additional income, and I feel like this is a good thing for me to do. But I'm a little scared! I know a little bit of what to expect. I know that agency nurses can get treated like crap and can get handed the worst patients on the floor. That part, I'm prepared for. The hospital that I work at now, used to use agency nurses.
Thanks in advance!
Sep 20, '05
As an agency nurse you can make that extra money you need. You don't have to deal with unit politics and you control when and where you work. Jumping into new environments gets easier the more you do it. Sometimes you will be welcomed with open arms on a unit. Other times you will feel like an intruder. You need a thick skin and the ability to focus. It's just a shift then you go back to your life. It's a game and once you know the players and how to play things get so much easier. Unfortunatley you must experience this for yourself so you can decide if it's for you. It may take a few agency switches before you are comfortable and that's normal.
Agency nursing is very scary especially if you are not prepared but you work only on units you agree to work based on your experience. When you arrive you will recieve very little orientation. Your best bet is to start a routine. When you sign in at the supervisors office find out there if you need any special codes to access medications and equipment. Once on the unit take a deep breath. If you feel a wave of panic rush over don't show it. Find the charge (write their name down) and get your assignment. Where are the meds and equipment, clean utility, dirty utility, crash cart, emergency manuals, linen, ice/water machine, staff bathroom. Greet the secretary,if you are lucky enough to have one that's your new best friend, especially if you get admissions. Got it? Good! Now get report the offgoing RN is getting ancy. Hit the ground running and get as much done right off the bat as you can. Sometimes you will get a lot of help other times you will be hung out to dry(not always intentionally). Always be prepared for the latter. Nursing units don't get agency approved unless they are in over thier heads so you will be busy. A lot of agency nurses complain they get dumped on and paired with lazy aides. It's nothing personal. Busy units have to keep morale up somehow. Make sure your charting is flawless. I usually always write a narrative progress note to make sure my bases are covered.
That's the best I can do at 2am.
Sep 20, '05
Agree totally with misschelei, as a float nurse I can relate to how some agency nurses are treated. The secretary is your friend, and if you're lucky you'll get assigned a decent aid to help. Otherwise, be sure you uphold a high level of autonomy and can work on your own. Make sure that your charting is top notch and very, very thorough. Best of luck to you.