How does on-call nursing work exactly?

Nurses General Nursing


So if a position is "on-call" does that mean you are on call on specified days? Do you get paid for this time, even if you're not called in? Are you guaranteed a minimum number of hours per pay period?

SilverBells, BSN

1,107 Posts

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager.

I know this answer probably isn't very helpful, but I would say it would depend on the employer, or even the supervisor.  I would think that most positions would be on call only certain days, or maybe 1 week every month or so.  However, some positions, such as a Director of Nursing, may require that you be on call 24/7 (it seems that maybe this isn't the position you are going after, but hard to tell from information provided in your post).   Pay would also depend on the employer/supervisor...some pay for your time on call, some would perhaps give you a reduced rate, and some might not offer any compensation at all unless you actually work.  Obviously, if you're in a salaried position that expects on-call as a job requirement you would not get extra pay during those times.  I would also think that there wouldn't necessarily be any guarantee of any hours, but you would, again, have to check with the employer or supervisor. 

Nunya, BSN

771 Posts

Specializes in NICU/Mother-Baby/Peds/Mgmt.

And sometimes you're on call the entire shift, which means they can call you in at 5am on a night shift if they want.  One job I had we were just on call from 7-10, if they didn't call by 10 we were home free.  And technically they couldn't call before 7 which meant you had 30 minutes to get in, which meant that the previous shift had to stay and wait for you, so must of us just said call as soon as you know you'll need us so that didn't happen.  We got paid for only those 3 hours but then if got called in got time and a half plus travel time.  Just ask at your job what the specifics are.

Aliens05, ASN

142 Posts

If it's a 24/7 on call type deal don't ever take a base salary unless it is an astronomical offer $$$$$. Otherwise you will making what most hourly people make, possibly SLIGHTLY more, and working endless hours per week. Trust me, it isn't worth it. 

Most nursing on call jobs only require you to be on call maybe ever 3rd weekend or something similar. For these I think it just depends on the employer in terms of how they determine pay. Some may pay you only if you have to go in, some may pay you a low hourly wage for being on call. 

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