I'm in the Baltimore metro area, if that matters. I met with an agency here that has a good reputation from it's nurses and hospitals. She said I would have no problem scheduling three 12's per week. I do 11a-11p ER and most people don't like that shift. But the idea of being canceled worries me.
I figured out what I need to make in a year and then divided by 50 weeks, to account for 2 weeks per year of issues. My goal being to set aside money in case of illness, cancellations, etc.
Should I expect cancellations in the summer and holiday times? Are we talking the entire summer or just partial? Do I try to arrange a contract prior to those times? I don't want to stay at my current position, but I'm considering transferring to the float pool PRN just in case.
Oct 8, '08
my experience has been (in the past month i have been ft agency), that you should have something else as a backup. i have been called off a lot the last four weeks. in fact, it is getting bad enough that i might have to get another job and just do agency on the side. when i interviewed, i specifically asked that question and was assured that they could keep my busy and get me full time. i haven't worked a full week yet. i am getting nervous and hoping i didn't make a mistake. you know, agency nurses get called off first. good luck!
Oct 9, '08
I'm an LPN new to agency. The agency I signed with has only one facility in my immediate area. (e.g. I don't want to drive more than 15 miles.) So at the one facility they pay 30$ an hour. I picked up 14 shifts with them for this month. The rest of the time I do per diem $25 an hour at our other area ltc/sub-acutes. Since they aren't contracted with the agency I work with it works well for me. When I get cancelled I have enough time to call schedulers and pick up another shift. Works really well for me.
Though I suspect it may be different for RN's.
Oct 10, '08
I staff for an agency and can answer some of your questions. PRN shifts do get hard to come by during the summer months. That isn't to say that they aren't there, it is just you never know and have to be very flexible! There are times I don't get a call from the hospital with a need until after they have someone not show up, so then that is when I can call whoever got canceled and offer them the shift. However, they have to answer the phone, I gets lots of nurses that go back to sleep and don't get my calls.
As for holidays...it just depends. Sometimes the hospitals own staff wants the holiday pay and they grab those shifts where as other times they are begging for people.
The key think to remember in agency work is that is always unknown and can change literally by the minute.
I plan to eventually work agency myself after I get a few years of experience. I will tell you that I plan to sign up with several agencies just to have myself covered. I used to work temp agencies doing clerical work and I worked several agencies then too and never hurt for work.
I will also say that if you want steady work then sign a contract. The agency that I staff for guarantees at least 36 hours per week in the nurses contracts. That means if they do get canceled for a shift and can't make the shift up later in the week then they get paid for that canceled shift. But all agencies are different so know what is in your contract!!!!
The nurses that I work with and staff regularly say that they love the variety of agency work and that the fact that they feel they don't have to put up with so much of the politics at work. Basically they go in and work their shift and leave (not taking work home with them). Now that is some of the nurses but not all. I have nurses here in the DFW area that are on their 10th or more 13 week contract at the same hospital. They just stay and work at the same place all the time. This company offers full benefits and they get paid more than the hospital pays it staff so why would they want to be staff when they can just keep renewing their contract?
Anyhow, I hope that I answered some of your questions. I can't wait to finish up school and get out there. Oh and I almost forgot if you do go agency and work PRN then the key to getting lots of shifts is to be very flexible and get orientated at all of the hospitals that you can. The nurses that I find that never get canceled are the ones that I can place almost anywhere.
Hope that helps.
Dec 2, '08
I am RN who just started working for a home health agency three months ago. (have decades of nursing experience but new to home health)It is great moral support to read words written by txnursingqt about how agency work is "always unknown and can change minute to minute"! It is also encouraging to read that you other agency nurses are experiencing requirements to be extremely flexible! Yes!!
One of my challenges regarding flexibility has to do with driving time to assignments. When I was first applying for this agency job I specifically asked if there would be enough work for me to drive only to homes within my county. The staff responded positively saying, "no problem--most of our cases are in this county".
Then during my first three months of work the office staff has called asking me to work a mix of in county and out of county patient assignments!--with each out of county request I kindly remind the office staff that I initially agreed to do only in county patients--then the office staff still tries to persuade me to take the out of county case--so I am trying to be what I call "medium level of flexible" about the out of county requests (for example turned down one hour drive cases and accepted a few 30 minute drive cases--yesterday office requested 40 minute drive "permanent" case and offered me one dollar more per hour for gas expense--I reluctantly accepted case--reason for me even keeping this job is the appeal of slower pace work of private duty cases for this older nurse and because of great perk of group health insurance) Ah, lessons is learning to be more flexible!!
Best wishes in all of your agency adventures.