Anyone start in a hospital as per diem? (new grad)

  1. I read a post of someone who did this, and I was wondering how it worked. Do they orient you like a full time employee and then you just get called off a lot, and obviously no benefits.

    Is it a good idea?
    Is it easier to get hired this way?

    Did you get hired full time by the employer eventually?

    I'm in a tough job market, and it would be hard for me to move. So, I'm looking at some unconventional ways of getting my career going. If anyone else has some tips on unconventional first jobs, I'd love to hear that also.
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    About BlueEyedGuy

    Joined: Nov '09; Posts: 103; Likes: 55


  3. by   Meriwhen
    I started as a per-diem.

    1. Fortunately, I had a long orientation--the same orientation that permanent staff received--so that helped. However not every employer offers per-diems a good orientation: some places may only give you a few shifts and let you run from there. In addition, most facilities expect you to know Nursing 101 and not need hand-holding on every single thing (I did a lot of off-hours education to keep up).

    Also, working per-diem doesn't mean you'll get full-time hours, so you're not going to develop your skills as quickly as someone who is working consistently.

    So whether it's a good idea depends on the facility as well as the specialty. Per-diem med-surg as a new grad? Perhaps. Per-diem ICU as a new grad? Probably not.

    2. It could be, as per-diems don't get benefits or PTO. However, they also aren't guaranteed hours and are the first ones cut when census is low.

    3. Yes. However, it was not automatic: I had to wait for a full-time opening to be posted, then apply for it, then go through all the same interviewing hoops as any other applicant, though I didn't have to provide references.

    Hope this helps.
  4. by   elkpark
    Ditto to everything Meriwhen said (except the part about starting out her career per diem; I didn't do that). Keep in mind, though, that since employers need per diem staff to be ready to jump in and do the job without a lot of assistance, lots of employers won't hire new grads into per diem positions. And, frankly, if an employer is willing to do that, they may not be doing you any favor. If you "crash and burn," they will just get another warm body with a license, but you only have you.

    The times that I've been employed on a per diem basis, I got a very abbreviated orientation. And it's not a matter of getting "called off a lot," it's a matter of not getting scheduled unless they need you. I've worked per diem positions where I might go two full weeks or more without getting offered any work. That kind of erratic scheduling makes it v. difficult for a new grad to develop experience and confidence.
  5. by   Student Mom to Three
    I started out with three part time three different towns and two different states....just to get started! Three very different RN two days per week; ASC recovery RN two days per week and consulting for a psych ALF 10 hours per week.

    I actually thought it was a great way to start! Learned lots of different things and within a few months I was full time at the ASC and now I am in outpatient endoscopy.

    I say take whatever you can get and MAKE it work for you!

    Good luck!
  6. by   naptimeRN
    My first nursing job out of school (10ish months ago) was a per-diem position in a hospital. It was the only thing available at the time. My "orientation" was three 8 hour shifts a week for 6 weeks. I was on my own at 4 weeks however when they were short. . Yeah, kind of scary. I worked 3 to 4 days a week. Could work more or less if I wanted. We are chronically short so we really depend on our PRNs! I was called off maybe twice in the 5 months I did it. I took a part time job at another hospital 5 months in, did not like that, and so I bid on a part time position at the hospital I was per diem at. They have full time jobs open constantly. I purposefully went part-time. Once we close on our house, I may go back to Per-Diem. I feel claustrophobia having to work when they say I have to and scheduling me every single Friday and Monday while others have 3 day weekends every weekend off, the denial of a request off four weeks in advance for a weekday day, and no vacation time in sight. I miss per diem because our scheduling is not fair for PT and FT. Most places I see hiring Per Diem however, seem to want people who already have experience or who are already in their system. If you don't need the benefits and you are in a situation where you have a spouse or other means of income that is sustainable, then Per Diem is the way to go. It gives you a sense of freedom and relief in such a constraining job with unfavorable hours.