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What is the life of an Agency Nurse Like?

Posted over 1 year ago

Carestaff Blog Post

Have you ever wondered what the life of an agency nurse is like? Before working as one myself I often thought, do you ever feel in control? When do you know about upcoming shifts? What happens if I get canceled? Can I choose where I work? There are a lot of questions to ask, so let’s get to the bottom of it. What is the life of an agency nurse like?

Agency nursing is never dull. The job will take you to different hospitals, facilities and wards at varying times, often with a moment’s notice. Wages are very reasonable, usually above full-time hourly rates. You have the freedom to choose when and where you work to suit your lifestyle, which allows for exceptional work-life balance.

Agency nursing keeps you on your toes. It makes you accountable, resourceful and forces you to be incredibly organized. This post explores what life is like for agency nurses, giving you a sneak peek into what it’s all about.

Agency Nurses Learn To Be Resourceful

You are a lone wolf asked to complete a job for a set number of hours.

Sometimes you are given 1-2+ weeks’ notice of a shift but on other days, it’s less than an hour before start time. There is no hand-holding. The manager or ANUM on shift expects that you are capable to complete the job successfully and safely, but will generally be there to offer support if you have questions, so don’t worry. They may or may not “check-in” throughout the shift, making sure you are managing okay. This simply means you need to take the initiative to ask for help when and if you need it, instead of expecting it.

Agency Nurses Never Get Bored

The cool thing about Agency nursing is you never feel stagnant. Even if you have been to the ward/unit prior, something will be new (medications, policies, storage, documentation, etc), which you hadn’t noticed before, keeping you on your toes.

After working in 3-4 different places, life soon becomes easier. While I wouldn’t use the word comfortable, you start to feel more efficient and your nursing becomes less rushed and more personable.

Agency Nurses Learn To Be REALLY Organised

You no longer have a boss or a member from Human Resource (HR) keeping track of your hours, pay, insurance, wellbeing or personal life, often impacted due to shift work. This can seem alarming, particularly when working full-time agency because you need to proactively organise yourself, your time timesheets, your budget and personal insurance. However, it’s exciting though because you are basically your own boss…. well kind of.

Agency Nurses Avoid Workplace Drama

Agency nurses don’t work for one particular hospital/unit/department or person (well, besides the nursing agency). They move around helping to fill staff vacancies whenever and wherever necessary.

The two big advantages often forgotten about in this kind of work is firstly, you’re quickly in staff’s good books just for showing up and secondly, you don’t need to get involved in workplace drama, politics. Agency nurses can simply enjoy the 8+ hours doing the job they love with no extra commitment.

Being an agency nurse takes a special kind of person. Working in these different environments, with people you don’t know, using equipment you may not have used before can feel isolating sometimes. The staff do not know who you are or the skill set you hold, well at least for the first shift.

When working agency, you are in the driver's seat. You get the incredible opportunity to choose where and when you want to work, limiting burnout and boredom. This type of nursing furthers your skills whilst networking with fellow nurses and medical professionals. And who knows what opportunities this could lead to?

Summary: What is the life of an Agency Nurse Like?

I have worked in about 20 different Emergency, Coronary Care Units and Aged Care facilities around Victoria and can honestly say it’s made me a better nurse. The constant new environments, staff and equipment make for some challenging shifts, but the actual work of being a nurse is universal. It’s fun to spread your wings, making each and every day more interesting than the next.



The Other Shift -

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