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What is per diem?


I am currently waitlisted fr nursing school so in the mean time I am trying to get a CNA position for experience. Alot of the positions list say they are per diem. I don't really under stand what exactly this means. What is per diem? I googled it... but that didn't seem to answer my question. :typing I currently work in banking and we do not have this type of position. I just want to know what this means befor I apply for any jobs. Thanks!


Specializes in Derm/Wound Care/OP Surgery/LTC. Has 10 years experience.

per diem literally translates to "very day" (which makes no sense really) :) It's a day by day job. You get called in as needed and you are generally the first to be asked to leave when census is low. This also generally means no vacations and no benefits, so if benefits are something that is important to you, per diem work is not where you would be best suited.

There are a few threads on allnurses about per diem work if you go into the search areas. Here's a couple:



Hope that helps!

Also, hospitals have varying policies regarding per diem scheduling -- you'll need to find out what exactly it means at the hospitals around you.

For example, one hospital by me requires per diem CNAs to work at least 36 hours a month (3 12-hour shifts or 5 8 hour shifts). Another requires per diems to work 2 weekend shifts every other weekend (4 weekend shifts per month), etc.

Cherybaby is right about not having any benefits, though, which probably why hospitals are hiring so many per diems right now ... it saves them a lot of money!

Actually, per diem is Latin:


(Latin: through, across, over; beyond, by means of)

Diem, of course, meaning day.

Or, if you use the Latin translation of diem and the English translation of per, "each day".

:D:D:D I guess taking Latin does come in handy sometimes!

FireStarterRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Med/Surg, Peds, ICU, Tele. Has 15 years experience.

It's sort of like being a substitute teacher. You fill in as needed. Usually your hourly wage is higher in lieu of benefits. If the floor gets really busy they may call you, you'll fill in for requests off, vacation time, sick calls, picking up unfilled shifts.

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

The others are correct, the definition does vary by hospital.

I work per diem for one unit. The pay rates are set by shift (day/night) and day(weekday/weekend).

I do not get any retirement, paid time off or health insurance, but I get paid at a fairly high rate.

I set my schedule weeks in advance with the hours and shifts that I want to work. If there are too many nurses on shift, the per diems are the second in line to be called off( full time staff working overtime gets called off first).

My hours are not guaranteed, but I get cancelled(called by the charge nurse and told to stay home) only once or twice a year.

FireStarterRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Med/Surg, Peds, ICU, Tele. Has 15 years experience.

I'm officially per diem in one unit but will work in 4 different ones and staffing treats me as a float per diem. I have relationships with people on all 4 units who ask me to pick up shifts. It's a great gig!

The staffing office loves me 'cause I'm flexible. Really, I have my dream job. I love it!!!

Thanks everyone!!! I understand now and this may be just what I am looking for. I have a full time job that pays the bills right now but I need to start putting extra money away for when I am in nursing school.. and at the same time I would love to get some expierance under my belt. :up:

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