Why Short-term Nurse Staffing Could Be Right for You

Per diem staffing could be right for you

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

Short-term staffing offers marvelous opportunities for registered nurses. Is per diem work, one shift at a time, right for you? 

Embracing flexibility

Per diem, or per shift, staffing allows nurses to pick the days they want to work. Sometimes, a nurse might block-book several shifts a week or more in advance, perhaps filling in for someone on vacation or maternity leave. Other times, the nurse may be offered a same-day assignment, which he or she can accept or turn down. 

Available shifts may include holidays, and per diem nurses can chose to work and earn extra holiday pay or spend the time with family. The ball is in the nurse’s court. 

Nurses who are continuing their education can work shifts around their school schedules, helping them earn advanced degrees while still earning a good income. 

Find per diem nursing jobs that fit your schedule with Nursefinders.

Practicing in a variety of settings

RN short-term staffing opportunities are available in hospitals, physician offices and clinics, long-term facilities and other institutions. That gives a nurse a chance to try out different places to work and different specialties or roles. 

Most organizations use per diem staff, either hired internally or through an agency, to ensure adequate nurse staffing. 

Receiving great pay

Due to the sometimes last-minute assignments, short-term staffing pays well. Consequently, nurses with part- or full-time jobs often accept per diem assignments for extra money. However, some nurses make filling short-term positions a full-time job. 

Per diem nurses often like to work “off shifts,” such as overnights, which often are more difficult to fill. 

Delivering stellar care

Supplemental or short-term staffing gives nurses the opportunity to practice as they always wanted, focusing on delivering quality patient care. 

Linda H. Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, conducted research comparing nurses from supplemental staffing agencies with permanent staff and found the per-diem nurses were as experienced and as well-educated or more educated than those employed by the hospital. 

Honing skills

Short-term staffing allows nurses to advance their careers as they practice in different settings, gaining career-advancing skills. Those may be clinical skills as well as softer skills, such as quickly developing professional relationships with one’s peers and teamwork. 

Balancing work and life

With the ability to control one’s own schedule, nurses can plan down time and prioritize family or self-time. The flexibility of per diem work allows the nurse the freedom to pursue hobbies, sports or other interests.

Enjoying new experiences

Per diem staffing is right for you if you enjoy change, meeting new people and experiencing new challenges or opportunities. With these encounters, nurses gain cultural competencies.  

It may be time to check out a new specialty assignment and learn on the job the ins and outs of that specialty. 

Avoiding politics

A definite benefit of short-term staffing positions is that the nurse avoids hospital or clinic politics and committee work. The nurse has the ability to care for patients without any hassles. 

Staying current with practice

Often nurses will turn to short-term assignments to keep their skills current, while they care for a growing family or pursue other interests. Per diem work lets them stay in top form when a full-time job would not mesh with other commitments. 

Checking out possible positions

Per diem nursing assignments allow nurses to obtain an “inside” view of various potential employers. The nurse may like what she sees and how she was received—or not. And it is better to learn about employers while on a temporary assignment than after being hired for full-time work. 

Another bonus is that the delivery of high-quality care by a short-term staff member may catch the eye of a manager or hiring authority and lead to a permanent job offer. 

The skills and knowledge developed as a per diem nurse makes that nurse more valuable to future employers. 


FIND OUT MORE about per diem nursing opportunities with Nursefinders.


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