Been doing agency for several years, but started doing only agency for the past year. It allows me to work essentially part time since the pay is higher. You do have to be flexible, esp. if you end up going to differant hospitals. It is a really good deal if you can go to the same hospital for a long stay or better if you go to the same floor over and over. You learn, like the other poster said here, that you run into a lot of resentment from the full time staff but you also learn to get "thick skin". Most agency nurses learn really quick, "go to work, do your job, and go home". You are not there to be anyone's buddy, if they choose to have an attitude while you are there, it is their problem, not yours. You are there to care for the pts, do your job, and get paid. Many times there is so much attitude you start to hear re: a place before you go there...that is when not only can a place not keep full time staff but agency won't go back, either. Listen to other agency nurses..they know where to go and NOT to go.
Many agencies are now offering health insurance and vacation days <to stay competitive and keep nurses>. Agency nurses speak with their feet. If an agency is not getting shifts for nurses or don't support the nurses, they walk right over to another agency with better support and bennies.
It is good to get at least a year experience
as staff. Take what you learn and go agency.
JUST remember that many hospitals have a policy that once you quit and go agency, you arenot allowed BACK in that facility for 6 months to a year. So you have to go to other
facilities in town when you first start agency work. Pay runs from 25/hour for Med surg to around 32-33 for ICU. Ask re: the agency's overtime policy...some will not get you hours if you reach the 40 hour mark, others will if the hospitals agree to use you. Then you end up making 45-50/hour.
You'd be surprised...when they are REALLY short staffed, they will use you even at that rate. BUT....keep in mind there are slow times for agency nurses...you may want to stay PRN or float pool at a facility as a safety net in case the agency work is slow. If you are flexible and do several areas, though, you are more likely to stay busy...eap. if you will do evenings, nights, or weekends!