Part-Time and Full-Time Per Diem Salary Strategies for Working RNs

Per Diem literally means, for each day. In salary terms this means you’re paid on a day-by-day basis. In the nursing industry Per Diem nursing staff are often not on long-term schedules and may be called off without warning or called on without warning. Why could this salary option be appealing to some RNs?

As a part-time gig, per diem situations can’t be beat. Say you’re a working RN employed full-time with a local hospital. You work 3-12 hour shifts. That leaves 4 more days during the week free. Some nurses opt to pick up an extra per diem shift locally if one is available. Why? The hourly pay is much more than their full-time hourly pay—it’s like making a bonus.

Per Diem nursing situations are so attractive to some RNs for a few reasons:

  • Higher hourly pay
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Able to work other places
  • Pick up extra shifts when needed

Nurses on the whole are notoriously underpaid, particularly those employed full-time and permanent in hospitals. To offset rigid schedules and earn more money RNs with the flexibility pursue alternative income strategies that include travel nursing and Per Diem nursing.

  • Find per diem positions directly through a hospital
  • Find per diem positions through a recruiting company—many handle both travelers and per diem nurses

Pick Up Per Diem Shifts Through a Local Hospital

If you are interested in occasional per diem nursing shifts you might find a regular trickle of per diem shifts listed directly through local job boards. Search a specific region or city for per diem RN jobs. Large cities have many available.

Working Per Diem Through a Nurse Staffing Agency

One of the better strategies for managing part-time or full-time per diem jobs is to work through a nursing agency. Most have very flexible online schedule management tools and offer incentives that you won’t find elsewhere—“refer-a-friend” bonuses, daily pay, 24-hour scheduling options, and more. Many of the top recruiting companies maintain good relationships with hospital human resource departments.

Shop and compare the top nursing agencies. Ask around among colleagues for recruiter recommendations. And signing on with one company doesn’t mean you need to stick with them unless you’ve signed a contract.

Per Diem Requirements

Few new grads will ever land a per diem job—most recruiting companies prefer nurses with a couple years experience at least and hospitals will not put a new grad into a day-to-day position, either.

Pursue per diem within your specialty – critical care, Emergency, pediatric, oncology – or a closely related area and have a few years of experience to show for it. You will be expected to be able to hit the ground running with little orientation and little hand-holding. RNs in these jobs must have razor-sharp critical thinking skills and possess the ability to work as part of a team and adapt quickly to unfamiliar situations and surroundings.

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