Anybody work per diem?I need info & advice.


I am a new LPN grad as of a couple weeks ago & not working yet. I plan on looking for a job when I pass my boards which I take in a July. I have a couple of friends that work in different nursing homes as CNAs & said that their facilities are hiring per diem.

What exactly is per diem?

What is the pay like?

Will I get hours?

Do i get the crappy shifts?

Do I pick any shift I want?

Is it good for an new LPN?

Do you think I need more experience?

Anything you can tell me about it would be great!

I know you dont get health insurance which is not a problem because my husband gets it for us. I thought it could be a good thing to get my foot in the door especially at this one particular facilty I would like to work at.

Any advice or info would be great, thanks!

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

1 Article; 922 Posts

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 16 years experience.

Hi there, I work full time at a hospital but will soon be working PRN/per diem at an ALF and have worked per diem at places in the past.

What exactly is per diem? Per diem is where you don't have a set schedule, you work when the facility needs coverage and you're available/willing to work. You're not REQUIRED to work every time they ask you to, likewise you are NOT guaranteed hours meaning you may go 2 weeks or longer without a shift.

What is the pay like? Typically the pay is a little bit more to be per diem usually 1-2 dollars more per hour but this depends on the facility.

Will I get hours? Depends on the facility there's no way to really say how many hours you will get. Remember, they don't have to guarantee your hours. However I've had PRN jobs where I could have had full time hours plus overtime if I had wanted it.

Do i get the crappy shifts? Depends on your definition of crappy. To me 7a-3p is a crappy shift, I'd much rather be working 11pm-7am. However, you will be offered the shifts that they have difficulty staffing which usually is either 11pm-7am or 3pm-11pm just remember these shifts often offer shift differentials which is always nice!

Do I pick any shift I want? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that you don't have to work every shift but no in the sense that if I'm a manager and have difficulty staffing nights or evenings, I'm not going to hire a nurse that's unwilling to work some of those shifts. Once you get more experience you can be pickier on what shift you want until then you may just have to pull your time.

Is it good for an new LPN? It takes repetition and getting used to the flow of whatever unit you're working on right out of school in order to get settled in to being a nurse. The first year is the roughest and since working per diem you may go 2 weeks without a shift it's really not desirable that being said working per diem is better than not working at all.

Do you think I need more experience? It would be useful but then again we all need more experience :)

Hope this helps!

tntrn, ASN, RN

1,340 Posts

Specializes in L & D; Postpartum. Has 34 years experience.

I have worked per diem for over 20 years and I love it. I must also say that I have the advantage of having full insurance coverage by my DH's employer (and even now that he is retired.) When our kids were younger and later in college, I worked 32-40 hours a week, although that sometimes varied depending on census; also varied because as a per diem I just didn't schedule myself I needed to be off for a vacation, a wedding or whatever. That is a definite advantage....not needed to ask for permission to be on vacation.

Now, I am semi-reitred, and I work 16-20 hours a month, but still per diem.

I do not work 7-3, as I agree with TheMoonIsMyLantern about that. And I think 11-7 is work than evil. 3-11 is what I like best and what works into my life best.

Per diem is not for everyone, but it's worked for me.


492 Posts

Specializes in Adult ICU/PICU/NICU. Has 54 years experience.

We called it "call -in" or "contingent". I retired from full time nursing back in 1992 and cut my hours drastically to .2 (eight budgeted hours a week) in the adult MICU where I had worked for nearly 30 years. I got cross trained at the childrens' hospital to work in their PICU where I worked contingenly only. There were weeks where I worked overtime because there were so many shifts available and acuity was very high. That winter, census and acuity was down, so I stared working contingent in the NICU. My final five years in nursing I only worked contingent and no budgeted hours between the MICU, PICU and the NICU. If I wanted to, I could get full time hours many weeks, but I mainly worked about 8 to 16 hours a twelves, no nights, no holidays.

I'm retired from critical care nursing now, but I work as a substitute assistant school nurse about twice a month...sometimes more. Even though I'm no longer doing much actual nursing. Contingent nursing was very good to me during my semi retirement...they were the best years in nursing I ever had knowing that I didn't HAVE to work...when you're old you don't worry about what people think of you and can tell it like it is.

I would suggest you work as many shifts as you possibly can at this per diem job so you can learn your nursing and get that experience needed. When it comes to hiring a new budgeted staff person, you already have made thoes human connections that are so important.

Best to you,

Mrs H.