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The Modern Nursing Landscape

Everyone knows that being a nurse can be one of the most rewarding careers, but few may know how many incredible employment routes they can take advantage of in their nursing career.

As more and more baby boomers start to retire, the nursing shortage is getting larger and larger. This nursing gap is leaving facilities in need, causing facilities to become more creative in finding ways for nurses to help fill their staffing shortages. With facilities getting more creative, this opens more opportunities for nurses to be flexible in their careers. There are a few routes by which nurses can be hired for employment at a facility:

  • Permanent Staff
  • Local Contract
  • Travel Contract
  • Per Diem

There are many benefits to each of these types of employment that can be customized to each individual and your situation.

A permanent position, also known as direct hire, is the most traditional form of employment. This is of course when a nurse is hired directly by the medical facility. Once an individual graduates from an RN program, they are traditionally hired as permanent staff and are given the training to grow in their career. In addition to training and education, permanent staff positions offer great long-term benefits, job security, and employment close to home. Individuals looking for long-term employment and growth in their career tend to choose to remain in permanent staff positions.

Those who are looking for more flexibility in their life and career tend to choose contract employment. Contract positions can either be local, meaning you live within a 50-mile radius of the facility, or can be considered a travel contract, meaning you live over a 50-mile radius from the medical facility contracted to work. Those who decide to work a local contract will be paid at a higher taxed flat hourly rate.

While nurses who chose to work a travel contract over 50 miles from their permanent residence are paid a lower taxable hourly rate with a weekly tax free per diem. This tax free per diem is based on IRS guidelines for the city worked and is to help pay for housing stipend and meals and incidentals incurred while traveling.

Most staffing agencies provide standard benefits that are typically provided with a permanent staff job, however, with contract staffing you have more flexibility and choices regarding where you work. Some utilize contract staffing for the variety of learning experiences, resume building, the opportunity to travel across the country, or for the increase in pay opportunities. Contract staffing offers a variety of positions to choose from, allowing individuals to flex employment to their lives.

Per Diem nurses are nurses who work on an as needed basis. This would be a temporary assignment found either through hospital staffing pools or a staffing agency. Per diem is a great option for someone looking for flexibility to choose when and where they want to work. It allows you to decide how many hours you want to work each week. However, you are not guaranteed work. It is also very possible to work a per diem assignment at the same time as a permanent or contract placement, as you are not working a set 36 or 40-hour work week.

Availability of shifts is based on the needs of the facility or facilities the staffing agency is working with. Be forewarned, due to the “as needed” nature of the assignment, there is low job security with per diem. These assignments help to ease the workload of medical facilities when needed. Once the medical facility fills the need or reevaluates patient flow, per diem nurses can have their assignments cancelled, often at the last minute.

When looking for a new opportunity it is important to evaluate not only the type of position but the pros and cons of each position. A nurse who wants longevity and a chance to grow within a facility might not feel at home in a per diem assignment and a nurse who is looking for a chance to travel and live in various locations would find themselves most happy in a travel position. If you are a nurse who is looking for a new opportunity, we are happy to help.