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how is agency different from travel

hi all,

I'm currently a travel nurse and I'm considering going agency. What are the differences?


Specializes in NICU; School Nursing.

If you work as a local agency nurse you tend to work per diem. You choose which days and which shifts you want to work. You are usually the first one canceled if there are too many nurses scheduled for a shift. If you don't work you don't get paid. There's no sick time or vacation time but you have the ultimate flexibility. I work as an agency nurse and I never have to work a holiday or a night shift or a weekend shift if I don't want to.

Travel nursing tends to be more of a short term contract deal. You might sign a 6 or 12 week contract with a specific hospital and unit. The hospital will then set your schedule so you may get 8s or 12s and you'll work weekends and holidays. Some agencies provide health insurance for their contract nurses and they may also pay travel expenses, living expenses such as renting a furnished apartment or residency hotel. The pro will travel nursing is that you are sort of treated like any other staff nurse employed by the hospital so you won't be canceled as easily as a per diem nurse would be.

I've never done travel nursing but I love my agency nurse side gig. I work full time as a school nurse and then pick up as an agency nurse on weekends, school breaks and during the summer. I only have to work one shift a month to remain on the active roster list and I get to choose which hospitals, which days and which shifts I'll work. If I have a particularly busy month then I just work my one shift and I'm done. If I have more free time like during my spring break from school then I'll work extra. I have been doing agency work for 6 months and have been canceled 3 times due to low patient census.

thank you so much for the clarification. I am going to start looking in to agency for my area. Any tips on picking an agency?


Specializes in NICU; School Nursing.

I was a full time NICU nurse when I decided to leave the exhaustion/burn out of a rotating day/night schedule and become a school nurse. When I put in my notice my manager, who I had a great relationship with, gave me the name of the staffing agency they use. It's the only one they use so if I wanted to pick up shifts on my old unit then that is the one I had to sign with. Luckily for me they've been great! It's Medical Staffing Network if you want to check them out.

One thing to make sure you ask about if you check out different agencies is if the agency has a non-compete type clause which prevents you from taking a staff position at a hospital that they've placed you at as an agency nurse. Medical Staffing Network doesn't have that type of clause so if I decide to go back to my old hospital I can do so with no problems. I just won't work at that hospital through the agency but I can pick up at a different hospital as an agency nurse. I hope that makes sense.

Edited by KKEGS

awesome. thank you for the information! I'm assuming per diem pays more than staff? I wonder how it compares to travel nursing salary.


Specializes in NICU; School Nursing.

Yes my per diem salary is $11 to $13 an hour more than when I was a staff nurse at the same hospital. :)

alright, I'm going to check it out. Thank you so much!


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