Per Diem Nursing Myths NurseFinders
Debra Wood, RN, Contributor
Nurses, aides and allied health professionals working in temporary per diem positions fill in during short-term absences of permanent staff or increases in census. Often health care professionals have heard myths about per diem assignments.
Per Diem Assignment Myths
Myth: Per diem assignments are just for picking up a little extra money.
“Per diem is used as a form of supplemental income, to pick up extra money when you have a full-time job, but we do have a lot of people who work per diem full time at the same facility or work full time through multiple facilities,” said Anthony Brown, a senior recruitment manager at NurseFinders in Los Angeles.
However, some nurses want to work only one or two shifts a week. Per diem assignments allow them to do that.
“You have access to many hospitals, and you can make it fit your needs,” Brown said.
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Myth: Working a per diem assignment eliminates the option of a permanent position
Many nurses and others think they cannot be hired for a permanent position at the same facility where they work as an agency per diem. That’s not the case, Brown said.
In fact, working per diem gives the nurse an opportunity to get a first-hand experience at that facility to scope out whether to apply for a permanent position. Additionally, the nurse or tech who delivers high-quality care may catch the eye of a hiring authority and be offered a job.
Myth: Per diem assignments are in troubled hospitals
That’s not the case.
“It is often easier for the facility to outsource the help they need faster than hiring staff and training them,” Brown said. “They can reach out to us, and we have staff ready to go.”
Often per diem staff fills a temporary need, for instance, staffing flu clinics in the fall. Rather than a healthcare organization hiring people for short-term positions, it can fill those jobs with per diem personnel.
“From a business standpoint, it’s more efficient,” Brown said. “Our nurses are ready to go on the first day, especially when there is an urgent need. ”
Additionally, if it turns out the nurse is not a good fit, Brown will send the organization a different nurse.
Myth: Per diem nurses are often cancelled.
While cancellations can happen, they occur infrequently. If it does happen, the NurseFinders recruiter will work hard to find a replacement shift.
“Per diem is empowering,” Brown said. “Every hospital and clinic could use some help.”
If the facility cancels when the nurse arrives, there is show-up pay.
The nurse also can cancel, but too many cancels can lead to a reputation as being unreliable. However, if the nurse does not like the work environment, he or she can tell the recruiter and not accept assignments at that facility in the future.
“You do not need to give me a reason,” Brown said. “It’s a great benefit. You have control over your lifestyle and work related to your lifestyle”
Myth: Per diem staff does not receive an orientation.
Nurses often worry about not receiving sufficient orientation when sent to a new assignment. NurseFinders wants them to feel comfortable and will arrange for an orientation or shadowing experience.
“Even though we may not be able to bill the facility for an orientation, we will still pay the nurse for the orientation or shadow work,” Brown said. “We want the nurse to be comfortable.”
Myth: Per diem nurses work the undesirable shifts.
That’s not the case, Brown said.
“We have all shifts available,” he added. That includes days, nights, eight-hour shifts and 12-hour shifts, school assignments, insurance assessments, and in-home medication education positions.
“We can find something that fits your needs,” Brown said.
Myth: Permanent staff members are not friendly to per diem personnel
Some permanent staff feel resentment toward per diem staff, thinking the temporary nurses earn more or are unhappy with the flexibility the per diem nurse has. Some feel angry that the temporary nurse is taking a shift that the permanent staff would like to do and earn overtime pay. “If you feel slighted or giving the works assignment, you need to come back to me,” Brown said. “That is not something we or the facility will condone.”
Myth: Per diem nurses cannot earn benefits.
NurseFinders offers benefits, such as a 401(k) retirement plan and discounts on continuing education. Per diem workers can purchase a preventive care medical plan.
Myth: Per diem must travel long distances.
Clinicians working per diem, typically, stay in their home community. NurseFinders complements travel nursing, perhaps filling vacancies when the travel company cannot.
“If there is a need travelers, there is also a need for per diem,” Brown explained.