What exactly is per-diem?

  1. Hey guys! I am just starting my job search since I passed my written and skills test today! I am actually starting nursing school next month and I am looking for a job as a CNA. Is it unreasonable of me to want a job only working one or two weekends a month? I am fortunate enough to be able to focus on my schoolwork and my real motivation for even working as a CNA is just to get some experience. Can someone please explain to me what per-diem means? Thanks for the advice.
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    About JenniferRobert

    Joined: Apr '10; Posts: 6

    6 Comments

  3. by   ldybug84
    per diem refers to very short-term temporary employment that consists of just a few days of employment to fill in for a sick or vacationing full time clinician. I think...
  4. by   DreamyEyes
    I work in assisted living and at our facility per-diem basically means "as needed". You can pick up as little or as many shifts you want per month. When I worked per-diem I only worked 2 weekends a month.
  5. by   fuzzywuzzy
    I'm pretty sure at most facilities you only have to work once a month in order to stay on the list.
  6. by   nurse2b813
    Quote from DreamyEyes
    I work in assisted living and at our facility per-diem basically means "as needed". You can pick up as little or as many shifts you want per month. When I worked per-diem I only worked 2 weekends a month.
    When you say 'pick', is that truly based on your wants or the hospital's staffing needs?
  7. by   llg
    "Per dien" is Latin for "per day" or "by the day." It means that you are not guaranteed a set number of shifts to work. If the hospital needs your help on a particular day, then you may be asked to work that day. If they don't need your help, you don't work. Usually, per diem employees are simply paid an hourly wage and do not get benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation time, etc. (However, there are sometimes exceptions to that.)

    "Per diem" is an employment status for legal and financial purposes. Being per diem doesn't dictate a particular type of work schedule. Each hospital decides for itself how to schedule its per diem employees. In fact, the scheduling may vary between units in the same hospital.

    In most places, the per diem employees "sign up" for shifts that they want to work -- within whatever guidelines the employer has established for a minimum number of shifts per month, a minimal number of weekends, holidays, night shifts, etc. Once that schedule is made, then the employer decides on a day-to-day basis whether it needs the per diem employees who signed up for that day to come into work or not. If it's really busy, then everybody who signed up for that shift gets to work (and gets paid) -- but if it is not busy, they may tell the per diem employees that they are not needed and that should stay home (and not get paid).

    Per diem employment can be a great option for someone who is seeking part time employment -- but who can tolerate the fact that they might not get to actually work all the shifts they signed up for -- or that the particular shifts they want to work might not need the help. If you are working in a department that is almost always busy and that usually has a few staff vacancies, per diem staff members will probably gets lots of opportunity to work. However, if the deparment is not terribly busy and/or they usually have plenty of staff members and rarely need extra help, the per diem staff may find that they don't get to work as often as they might like. So, you need to be prepared for all possibilities.
  8. by   DreamyEyes
    Quote from nurse2b813
    When you say 'pick', is that truly based on your wants or the hospital's staffing needs?
    I just meant "pick up" shifts. At my facility, the director of nursing does the schedule and once all of the full-timers and part-timers get their scheduled hours, the people who are per-diem can look over the schedule and pick up shifts where there are any needs. Most of the time at my facility, there are a lot of days where we need more aides... especially on the 3-11 and 11-7 shift.

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