Oh my, where do I start? I only applied to the agency in the first place because I graduated into the big lay-offs of the mid 90's and couldn't even get an interview anywhere else. I was hired as a brand-new grad; I have a son with complex medical needs so I have a good deal of basic experience that I obtained before I went to school and they felt they could take a chance on me. I was hired for pediatric (not technologically dependent) home care, or so I thought. They would not give me set hours or any guarantee of work; I was essentially a casual. The first placement I had was looking after a girl with congenital defects from maternal warfarin treatment. The mom was a bit of a nutbar, to say the least, and she treated the staff who came into her home every day like we all were brainless idiots. I lasted a month with them before I'd reached the end of my tolerance.
Then they started calling me for staffing relief. The first 12 hour night shift I did at a local hospital, they expected me to be in charge of a surgical unit; I had no clue until I arrived there even though the staffing office at the hospital told the agency that was what they needed. When I refused to do it the nursing supervisor was rather cranky to me and ended up reassigning another nurse to do charge. I stayed and took the other nurse's assignment. No one showed me around the floor or offered to let me join them for breaks. It was pretty awful. I was sent back there again a couple of months later, to the same floor, and got the same treatment. I didn't even know where the staff washrooms were.
Another time they sent me to a long-term care facility for an 8 hour night. Only they didn't tell me I was going to be the only RN in the building. That was a frightening outing for someone who was relatively fresh out of school and had no charge experience.
One of my pediatric assignments was a single day shift with a teenager who had juvenile Huntington's. The family had abandoned their two children when they started showing symptoms, and the agency was their guardian. I was informed on arrival that I was to scrub all the floors in the apartment, clean out the fridge and clean the bathroom in addition to nursing care for the older sib. The younger one was picked up shortly after I got there to go to school. So when my pay check was cut the next week, I discovered that I had been paid LPN rates for that day because they usually placed LPNs in that home, but didn't have one available that day.
Another time I had a 10 year old patient with holoprosencephaly I'd worked with quite a lot. Although it was July and hot as a firecracker, he was wearing sweats, a housecoat, socks and mittens... and still was cold to the touch and lethargic. When I checked his vitals, his temp didn't register on the thermometer, his pulse was 47 and his systolic BP was 53. I was terrified he was going to arrest on me, so I called the office as I'd been instructed to do. They said his pediatrician was aware; they were not going to call him and that if I called him myself they'd fire me. So I waited for his mom to come home, told her my concerns, and told her I was not leaving until she called the pediatrician and told him everything I'd told her. Turns out he was profoundly hypothyroid and verging on myxedema coma.
But the straw that broke the camel's back was when I was hired to work in the nursery at the hospital. I gave them my availability (virtually zilch) and told them I would still work only in the one home where everything had always gone well. They would call me sometimes 3 times in the same day after being told I was sleeping because I was working nights at the hospital. And they would do it day after day. I finally quit. I would not recommend that kind of arrangement to anyone!