Why aren't you working for me?


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i am a director for a medium-to-large sized local nurse staffing agency and i have been following this site for some time now. i am wondering, what keeps nurses from working for agencies such as mine? we are always on the lookout for new nurses, but it seems that more money, flexibility, respect and individual satisfaction just isn't enough. what is it about agency that scares nurses so much?

let me take a moment to assure the monitors of this site that i am not advertising for my agency, as no contact information can be obtained from this message or my bio page. i'm just doing some research.

we have been in business for over 16 years and generally keep our nurses at the facility of their choice. we have well over 500 nurses and a wide choice of facilities to work in. our nurses work with facility nurses doing the same work and getting a much better pay along with a much more flexible schedule. yet these facility nurses refuse to work for agency.

if anyone has any thoughts, i would be happy to hear them.



1 Article; 2,394 Posts

Specializes in Everything except surgery. Has 27 years experience.

Ok...Here goes...and I'm sure someone will correct me if I add this up wrong...:cool:

Nurses who do agency are a different breed....if you will. Many people prefer to find they're own little niche in the world, and don't enjoy going from place to place, or floor to floor. Hence the dislike of many nurses about floating. Some poeple prefer to know the situation they will be walking into...and don't have the ability or the wish to be the "new" person all the time! They like to know the rules, and the people they work with.

Since you said you have been following this site...than you are aware...that many nurses...feel that agency nurses take away from any pay raises they might have been able to obtain. They feel that instead of hospitals spending all that money on agency nurses, they should use it to give them a raise, Also...many agencies don't compare with working steady staff..in the area of benefits. If an agency nurse is cancelled or sick...most agencies have no sick or vacation time...that would help cover the lost of pay. I myself...do not agree with this thinking...but I have heard it expressed many times.

Sometimes an agency nurse is given the worse assignment, by being given the most difficult or time consuming pts. Those who do this to agency nurses...are totally aware that they do it, and therefore...would expect it to be done to them. I have also heard this thinking! Where I am now...a nurse asked me after three days on my current contract...how was I able to work as well I did...in such a short time...when it took her 3 months! Some people are just more flexible than others. One nite I was floated to another unit, and my TL...told me as I walked in. She had this look of apprehension on her face...(difficult to describe)...but I knew she thought I would be upset! Why because most people when they're told they will float get upset! I smiled the whole time...as she was trying to assure me I would be there only for 4hrs, and how sorry she was about it..:chuckle! When I got down to the other floor...they constantlly apologized.....as I had come into an assignment where I had two pts...who need IV sites...and both would be getting 2 units of PRBCs! It didn't bother me in the least! So someone said to me..".you sure have the right attitude"..and "you're sure taking this well". I told them ...I can do anything for one nite! But there was another nurse who had been floated...who complained about everything...from having to take her own VS...to God knows what else! The difference between she and I?? I have been agency a very long time...and I was used to going in, and switching gears quickly! She was staff, and was used to working in her own area...and disliked being floated.

Really I could go on, and on. But as an agency in business for 16yrs...I would think that you would have a handle on why nurses chose or don't chose agency work.:confused:???

But since you don't, I'm glad that you have sought out the opinions of the nurses on this site.:cool: It shows excellent insight on your part...:cool: So I hope this and other posts help you to understand that nurses are different. We don't all think alike...nor want the same things. Some of us like to have a place to call home...and some of us...call where ever we hang out hats/purses home...:cool:

BadBird, BSN, RN

1,126 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

Dear Agency,

I work for one agency now and have a interview for another next week, why= money. The pay can be significant like $10.00/hr more between agencies. I always go with the most money, the work is the same, they staff the same hospitals so why not get the most money you can. I never call off unless I am truly sick, I called off 2 times in 2 1/2 years and the last time I ended up in the hospital for 5 days, I am flexible to a point but I will not work medsurg, I will only work ICU's so if the hospital doesn't need a ICU nurse please feel free to cancel me as I will not float. A agency that backs up its nurses is worth a lot, if they know what you will and will not work and enforce it with the hospitals then I would work for them. My guess is that if you are a small company you may not pay what some of the bigger agencies are offering, I could be wrong but this is my guess. Another reason many nurses don't want to work agency is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of not having benefits, those nurses complain all the way to retirement but will never change, too bad for them. Do you back up your nursing staff or do you side with the hospitals? By this I mean if a nurse is a telemetry nurse and the hospital tries to float her to medsurg or ICU do you tell the hospitals up front that this nurse only works tele or do you try to make the nurse float?


29 Posts

I do agency because I need a flexible schedule. I adore Med\surg floor nursing (standing proudly despite all the laughter). I also love the challenges I face, never knowing where I will work. I orient quickly and have been a charge nurse long enough to know who my resources are.

As for the staffing issues, Please don't take it out on the agency nurses because your hospital won't come off the budget and make FT staff pay more desireble. Chances are your hospital pays exactly or very close to what all facilities are paying in your area. AS for the nurses I work with... They are very grateful to have another nurse and it is very rare that I feel "dumped on".

I am a team player. When I am on that unit I am on THEIR team that day, not the agencies. Not a day goes by when a nurse mgr or charge nurse doesn't ask me to come on staff full time.

I often feel more welcome than I did when I was a floated to another unit as a staff nurse.

As for Agency's question, I can only answer for myself. Before I tried agency, I enjoyed the comfort I found in staff nursing. I enjoyed the feeling of belonging to a family of nurses. I stumbled on Agency nursing by mistake. I didn't know it could be so great! Now I can't imagine not doing it!

nurse deb

30 Posts


I think we feel more comfortable in one place sometimes. As human beings, we tend to dislike "change". Also, there are alot of cancellations. You may be scheduled to work one night, then they'll call and cancel you at the last minute. I used to work for an agency and they always offered me the jobs nobody else wanted.

I would get the difficult pt that no one wanted or get called in the middle of a snowstorm! I want to return home in one piece to my children too! It's alot more difficult when you don't know the pts as well. You never know what you're going to walk into, but some nurses enjoy the variety.

I'm considering going into home health here in St. Louis because I have alot of clinical experience. Everything from pediatrics to geriatrics, internal medicine and dermatology. I love working in the physicians offices as well, but the pay is poor. I thought I might get some good assignments along with better pay by going with an agency. Agency has it's advantages like being able to choose what hours you want to work. I'm amazed when I hear about mandatory overtime! No wonder there's a nursing shortage!!


nurse deb

30 Posts


Nothing wrong with med/surg. I love it too!! (smile)



279 Posts

I don't because I feel that I need more security. An agency doesnt care about you. My girlfriend worked for an agency and she got the sh*ttiest jobs around.


603 Posts

Not enough hospital experience, here!


4 Posts

Thank you all for the insight. I do agree with most points made, however, being that we are a mid sized company, we are able to maintain a low overhead. This allows us to pay a significant amount more than the national staffing agencies in our area (which suprises a lot of people!). We do offer sick/vacation time and quarterly bonuses. We also offer a discount for medical insurance, uniform discounts, and yearly pay raises. Yet we still have difficulty hiring new staff.

I truly think that the HUGE misconception about agency nursing is that everyone thinks you will be moved around constantly. This cannot be farther from the truth. We have employees at the same location on the same floor for 40+ hours a week every week. This is because we do stand up for our employees. We have strong relationships with our facilities, and we respect both our clients and our employees.

BadBird, while you make it a point to insist that the agency stands up for you, you also make it quite clear that your loyalty follows the agency with the most $$$, and that you are not willing to slip down to the medsurg floor for one shift to help the agency fill the gaps in their schedule. I know it sounds strange, but one missed shift can really give the agency a bad name. No matter how many shifts have been filled beforehand. So no matter how good a nurse is, an inflexible nurse is not much of an asset to our agency. I'm not meaning to put you down, but I have stood up for MANY nurses only to have them leave for a dollar an hour more, or decline a shift when they know I'm in a jam. (Just some insight into the wonderful world of management :) ) Let it be said that we NEVER expect any nurse to take a shift they do not feel comfortable, or have the experience to do.

As for not understanding nurses, Brownms46, you are correct. Experience has shown me that it's not all about the money, the job, or the flexibility. Priorities are different for each nurse that walks through the door. We do require a different breed of nursing at our agency, one that can not only adapt to new and sometimes strange territory, but also someone who is confident enough in their training to handle the duties of agency nursing.

As for the issue of taking money away from staff nurses, it could not be farther from the truth. The reason why pay has gone up in facilities in our area is directly related to our agency. Facilities have increased pay by 30-40% to keep competitive with our rates. I know for a fact, after speaking with administration, that this is true.

So I will continue to offer incentives, be yelled at by the DON's because my rates are too high and I didn't fill that 11-7 shift that was called off at 10;45. As well as being told that I do not pay enough by a nurse that made more than two staff nurses put together.

And yet, I wouldn't trade this job for anything. Most of the nurses I work with are VERY grateful. I consider myself lucky to be in such a rewarding career. We have fought long and hard to get more respect for our nurses, and I believe we are getting there!

Thank you for the input. It is hard to get such candid input from my staff, probably due to all that "firing" I do (kidding). If anyone has other opinions towards agency, let me know.



1 Article; 2,394 Posts

Specializes in Everything except surgery. Has 27 years experience.

A very excellent response agency, I must commend you on your choice of words. But I do feel BadBird and others who only do ICU, or certain units...should not have to 'help" out the agency...by doing a shift they don't wish to. This is one of the reasons most nurses do agency. So they can say when, where, and for how long.

I don't mind being floated eslewhere....but I do have units I won't go to...and LTC is one of them! I also don't do peds, and would refuse any such shifts offered...no matter how desperate the agency is. I also don't go in on short notice...unless I like the hospital I'm going to. Why? Because too many times...no one has bothered to even check in on the pts...that they're waiting to give the agency nurse when she/he arrives. Yes I would get paid for the whole shift... but who wants to do 8hrs of work in 6??? Not me! There's barely enough time sometimes to get everything completed in the 8hrs...let alone to be totally behind... before you even get there.

But I'm always at the assignment I'm supposed to be at...early. I keep a cheerful, helpful attitude...and never have any problems going back to those places I do want to work. And they know where I like to work....and always try to place me there! I don't feel it's my place to do anything for the agency...but do my job, and do it to the best of my ability, and cancel only in extreme emergencies! In 20 yrs...I have never had an attendance problem! And most places I have been...always ask for me back, and call my agency to find out why I'm not on their schedule that week...:cool:.

Right now I only do travel...because I got tired of being canceled four hours before the shift....d/t low census. In fact most agencies now allow hospitals to cancel you two hours before the shift! And this is not enough time to get find somewhere else, and get their before the beginning of the shift!

As travel I'm guaranteed the same number of hours each week...so I know...what I'm bringing home each week. And most people with homes, car, and other bills...get tired of worrying about whether or not...they're going to be able to pay their bills each month, or having to take undesirable shifts...just to make it!

I must say...that I do per diem...only in between assignment, and would never do them again...on a regular basis. I don't like all the calling back and forth that goes on...to fill shifts! I like knowing my schedule is set...and I don't have to worry about call off! Like tonite...the hospital called and canceled me for 4hrs. But the thing is...they will be paying me to sit here and type this post. Because I get paid...whether I work or not...so it's :cool: with me:chuckle

BadBird, BSN, RN

1,126 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

Let me say that I am 100% dependable, as a matter of fact I have only worked in 3 hospitals because the management called the agencies and offered me contracts. I work off shifts, weekends and holidays when no one else will, with that I am flexible, I just won't float to MS. There are many ICU units to go to and they are always understaffed so this has not been a issue . When I work for the agency I make money and they make money, I let them know up front what I will and will not do, such as med/surg. If the agency is short that is not my problem, they should be glad to have a reliable ICU nurse, and fortunately for me my agency is, no problems and going on 3 years with them. Some of my friends who work with other agencies complain about floating and their agencies not sticking up for them, they switched to my agency and have been very happy. I work agency because of the Money, schedule of my choice, I love the ICU's and thrive on learning new technology. I am smart, quick learner, I keep up my CEU's that aren't even required for the state I am in now. I try to stay current at my own expense. It is amazing how many of the hospitals staff do not know how to use their own equipment. Floating from ICU's is a good learning experience and I feel quite comfortable since I have done this for years. Mostly I am in the same unit unless I pick up a extra day at another hospital just for a change of pace, it's nice to compare different hospitals you can always learn something or teach something. Mostly I love it when I see a patient near death recover and make it out of the unit.


4 Posts


It's interseting that you work for a travel nursing agency. We have been kicking around the idea of expanding our operations into travel nursing, but we lack any experience in this area. Any insight into the specifics of travel nursing...as far as licensure (your own, not the companies), operations, lodging, meals, etc...would be greatly appreciated.


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