Somthing needs to change. Is agency nursing for me?

  1. I have been a RN for 4 years now. I've Spent over a year in telemetry, and the rest of the time in the ED working as a full time staff nurse. I am getting burnt out with this job. Agency nursing has been an interest of mine for some time, I just don't know where to start. I am a 27 year old single guy with no kids, and people are tell me that working as a "FT staff nurse" at this time in my life is a waste. My schedule often sucks, and my pay checks are comical at best. I've recieved a total of 85 cents raise in the four years I have been employed at this hospital. ($22.52 increased to $23.37/hour)

    I live right outside of New Orleans, LA (approx 8 miles away). Any advise is much appreciated.

    -Where do I start? (Do I just google Louisiana agencies)?
    -Should I expect better schedules? (I am a Saint's season ticket holder and would like to attend some games this year) lol
    -Any idea what kind of hourly pay is to be expected with my experience?
    -Really any information you care to share with me is appreciated.


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    Joined: May '07; Posts: 23; Likes: 30


  3. by   HouTx
    Sounds like you have a really strong work record. Have you talked to your manager or HR about career growth opportunities?

    Don't do anything drastic until you determine whether agency nurses are actually being used in your area. A lot of organizations have just stopped using any agency except for travel nurses in specialty areas to cover for scheduled leaves (maternity leave, extended sick leave, etc). Be aware that travel nurse contracts are frequently written to specifically exclude any one who lives locally - they only want nurses who are actually travelling from another area.

    If hospitals are using daily (PRN) agency, then find out which ones. Hospitals usually have negotiated contracts with specific agencies and apply with those companies. Agency work can be a real drag - you always get the worst patients & all the scut work & you get cancelled at the last minute so the pay is very uncertain. No benefits, no guarantees. Have you considered going PRN with your own hospital to get more control over your own schedule?

    Good Luck - hope everything works out for you very soon.
  4. by   Heidi the nurse
    Hi there,

    I loved working for an agency. There are a couple of big name ones out there, but lots of smaller ones too - either google or look in the yellow pages (yeah, I'm old school). I have worked for 4 or 5 agencies over the years. The way they do assignments varies. I remember (in the days before the internet again) one had a big white board up in their office - names of families if its home care, or name of hospital with floor, dates and shifts. Assignments were first come first served. Sometimes there would also be a call a couple hours before the shift started to see if you wanted to fill a shift. In other cases, I would let them know when I was available and they would call to see if I was able to fill in.

    Pay varied. The shifts at the hospital paid fairly well, the home health shifts not so much. I have also been employed at hospitals that bring in agency staff and we always were under the impression that they made $10 or15 more per hour than we did. That wasn't my experience as an agency nurse, but I also never worked for the agency that this was rumored about, if that makes sense.
  5. by   GM2RN
    In addition to working PRN for your current employer, you might potentially have 2 or more PRN jobs to ensure that you get the hours you need and still have more control over your schedule. Of course, you need to consider whether or not you need to have benefits.

    Another option is to drop to a PT schedule with your current employer, one that would give you enough hours to get benefits, but you would be locked into a schedule for fewer days. Then pick up extra shifts on a PRN basis to get the hours you need. You would likely pay more for benefits as a PT employee, but you would also have more flexibility with your schedule.
  6. by   gonzo1
    Right now is probably not a good time to give up a staff job. 4 years ago when I started doing agency my phone rang off the hook with open shifts. In 2009 hospitals really started pulling in there belts and shifts dried up. Same thing for travel nurse jobs.
    If you don't care where in the country you go you might be able to pick up a travel nurse job, but don't quit your staff job till you have accepted a travel job because they are hard to come by right now as well.
    The other thing is that with the downturn in the economy agency pay has decreased significantly.
    Things may be starting to turn around slowly, but still very shakey out there. I am currently on a travel nurse contract, but this is my 7th contract, so I have some experience.
    It is true that as an agency nurse you most often get the crappiest pts, and poor team work. Remember, the nice places don't need us.
  7. by   Vanillanut
    I would research travel agencies, get set up with a good one, and go on a couple assignments before leaving your current position. You really want to make sure you're stepping out on to firm ground if you're leaving a guarenteed position.

    On the other hand I have less experience then you and am making much more then you per hr. So if you're looking to travel, or at least relocate, I know a few hosp's/agencies around my area that are hiring. For an ER nurse with exp you are looking around $35/hr to start.
  8. by   RNAM1965
    I agree about agency nursing being a less secure career option right now. In the Southeast, none of area hospitals are using agency nurses, but 5 -10 years ago most used hundreds of agency nurses a day. Now, zero.
    Many of hosp in our area are canceling shifts for staff, and if there is agency in house, they will be called off first.

    Also, even though the base pay rate is higher, agency nurses often are not paid shift diffs, or not as much shift diff, as the hospital might pay. So you might be better off staying with current hospital working off shifts if the diffs are good. I've worked side by side with agency nurses making $33 - $35/hour and I've made more in the hospital by the time weekend night diffs were factored in . Not to mention I still was getting paid sick time off, vacation, health insuraNce, dental, disability, etc. So, please make sure you look at factors carefully: sick days? paid time off? I have known many agency nurses burn themselves from never taking sick days or vacation days because they weren't paid if they were off. We work too hard and we have to have time off!

    I have seen agency nurses getting the crappy schedules and the crappy patient loads over the years. I've seen agencies treat my friends and colleagues like doo-doo and jerk them around with pay, assignments, etc. But I have seen some (usually more local) agencies treat staff okay. And weigh the difference if the agency provides any continuing education, credits, inservcies, etc. If they don't and your hospital does, you might be better off at your hospital. Who pays for BLS? etc etc. .. Research all factors and know what to ask for if you decide to "go agency". I think it can be rewarding for some young singles who feel they might not need same level of benefits, etc. Good luck!!
  9. by   RNAM1965
    Also, I think you are underpaid. I hope y'all's cost of living is cheaper down there in New Orleans!!

    our new grads start at $24/hour.