As of late, many of the RNs at the ICU where I work have left to work for medical staffing agencies or traveling nurse services. They claim that the wages, benefits, and working conditions are all much better than in the hospital as regular staff. I'm considering agency nursing myself, but I'm afraid that the stories are too good to be true. Any advice out there?
Aug 29, '99
I have worked as a traveling and agency nurse in the past and as soon as I get a couple years NICU experience (I have 15 yrs in adult critical care) my girlfriend who works NICU already will start traveling again. Free housing, better wages, more places and if after 13 weeks you want to go somewhere else you can. No hospital ties and no involvement in hospital politics.
If Ya' Don't Love The Blues, Ya' Got A Hole In Your Soul
Aug 29, '99
I am a travel nurse in psych and travel with my family. The pay is better, housing is paid for the most part, no need to get involved in "hospital politics", and if you don't like the placement, you can remember that it's only short term and you'll be moving on soon. There are many benefits, but if you don't like to pack up and move every three to six months, or dislike change and getting used to new environments then it's not for you. If you can deal with the changes (even policy and procedures!) then it's wonderful. You get to see the country without the major expenses of a vacation and make many friends. I consider myself on a permanent vacation and love it!
Aug 30, '99
I've been working as an RN for a local hospital staffing company. The wages are by far much better...in some places, twice the hourly rate. I do not need benefits at this time in my life so I prefer the extra money. I love knowing that I'm not "stuck" in a job or even have to have any opinion on the hospital politics or "floor/unit politics" which are always present.
However, there are a few disadvantages. I don't have a regular schedule, i.e., where I can fully depend on X number of hours and X amount of dollars weekly. I don't always know in advance where I may be working or which shift. My agency requires the hospital to give 2-hours notice to cancel a shift and that is the maximum that any of them give. I have found myself ready to go to work many times at 9:00 p.m. only to find out that my shift has been canceled. It can be quite frustrating.
I would say that agency nursing is somewhere in the middle. It is by far better for me than working for a hospital. I just couldn't do it anymore. But there are moments when I truly would like a more stable way of life. But for now...it's fine. If you don't have a lot to lose, give it a try.
Oct 2, '99
I spent almost one year working as an agency nurse. The money was good and I enjoyed choosing the area I which to work. The only problem here (England) is that you aren't eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) as you are classed as 'self-employed', and the agency I worked for have only just introduced paid holiday entitlement. However, I was fortunate not to be sick during my time as an agency nurse, so this was not a problem for me. If you don't like a department you don't have to go back, or get involved in the ward politics. You also get a chance to work in new specialities. Being an agency nurse really broadened my experience. I work full-time on a ward now and miss the moving around.
[This message has been edited by diana davies (edited October 02, 1999).]
Oct 18, '99
I've been doing only agency for a year now, did it part time along with my during the week job for several years. I love it. Better pay, flexability, no getting involved in politics <I've done night and day shift and it is amazing to see first hand the backstabbing that goes on>. They "forget" there is an outsider on the unit and they gripe and gripe about the other nurses <even after you just got done seeing them be so NICE to that nurse>. Don't have mandatory meetings to attend, etc... What's really good is when you get offered a contract...guaranteed hours at the higher agency pay. Yes, there are pros and cons...usually no benefits like sick and vacation time, you are the first to get cancelled. But if you do more than one specialily area and do off-shifts <weekends/nights/evenings>, you get more work. Lots of resentment of staff nurses <agency nurses get thick skins, though...usually adapting the attitude of "go to work, do your job, and go home">. I make the SAME rate whether the people I work with for that 8 or 12 hours can behave like grown ups or not! After seeing some bitter behavior, it is no wonder that some floors cannot keep staff/co workers. One local hospital here is staffed by 40% agency. Why not...they don't have to give us benefits and they just don't use us when they get slow <as opposed to having to pay full timers benefits and all even though they get cancelled when census is low>.
Make sure you sign up with an aggressive agency, though...you get more hours that way!
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