How to Transition from Full-Time to Per-Diem Nursing

Healthcare Jobs

Are you a nursing professional curious about what working per diem as a nurse would be like? Or, maybe you are about to take the leap and transition from a traditional full-time nursing position to working as a per diem or PRN nurse. In either case, per diem nursing—or working as a nurse on an “on-call basis”—can be your ticket to a better life-work balance. That’s because the long hours and constant stress that sometimes occur with full-time staff nursing positions can lead to burnout. On the other hand, switching from full-time to per diem nursing can give nurses more control over their schedules. Therefore, if you are a nurse and want to build a schedule to fit your lifestyle (and not the other way around), a per diem nursing position could be an ideal fit for you. 

Leaning toward a PRN position? Then read on to learn some of the major benefits of working as a PRN nurse and why so many nursing professionals are choosing to make the “big switch.”

Specifics of Working Per Diem as a Nurse

nurses smiling

Some nurses will say that PRN is the secret to happiness because you can mold your nursing schedule to fit your lifestyle. And while PRN nursing offers a good amount of scheduling flexibility, there are a few things to consider before transitioning into a part-time or full-time PRN nursing role. 

What is a per diem nurse? PRN stands for pro re nata, meaning “when required.” Therefore, working as a per diem nurse usually involves indicating availability to a hospital or other medical setting and picking up shifts where coverage is needed. Additionally, per diem nurses can provide availability and pick up shifts quickly using this smart per diem staffing app. Ultimately, a per diem nurse will work at different hospitals and other healthcare settings on an as-needed basis. That said, per diem nursing allows nurses to work only the shifts they desire. At the same time, since a particular medical facility may need coverage suddenly, last-minute nursing shift call-ins are common. And while you can always “say no” or turn down shifts when working as a per diem nurse, there can be times when less work is available. Consequently, per diem nursing does not guarantee stable pay. 

On the flip side, per diem nurses can make excellent hourly pay. In fact, one of the main benefits of switching from full-time staff nursing to PRN nursing is the increase in hourly pay. In general, medical facilities pay PRN nurses a higher per-hour rate because they aren’t eligible for benefits such as insurance or retirement packages.  Furthermore, if you are consistent in picking up PRN shifts, you can potentially make much more than other nursing professionals in your field—taking into account a PRN’s higher hourly rate. With all that in mind, below are some of the most notable pros and cons of per diem nursing. 

Pros and Cons of Per-diem Nursing

Many nurses will agree that the pros of per-diem nursing outweigh its cons. Still, it’s important that every nurse analyzes per diem nursing pros and cons for themselves. With this in mind, here is a quick list of some of the most significant benefits (pros) and drawbacks (cons) of per diem nursing:

Per Diem Cons 

  • Part-time versus full-time nursing: Sometimes, per diem nursing can mean inconsistent scheduling, which also means inconsistent paychecks. 
  • Paid time off, sick leave, and full-time employee benefits packages are rarely offered to per diem nurses. 
  • Per diem nursing involves “floating” or picking up shifts where needed. Therefore, adjusting to new units and colleagues can take some time. 
  • Any per diem shift can be scheduled or canceled at the last minute. This leads to less job security overall. 

Per Diem Pros

  • More freedom: One of the biggest advantages of working as a per diem nurse is that you can work the shifts you want to work and refuse the shifts you don’t. 
  • Higher hourly pay: More often than not, per diem nurses will make a higher hourly pay than nurses with a regular full-time nursing job.
  • Last minute weekend getaway? While you may not get paid time off, working as a per diem nurse does allow you to take a vacation or leave whenever you want. 
  • Per diem nursing can create a better work-life balance and reduce your risk for burnout. Therefore, per diem nursing can be great for your mental health. 

Reasons Why Working Per Diem Can Be Beneficial

nurse smiling

As you can see, working as a per diem nurse has a lot of benefits. One major benefit is that per diem nursing allows you to have enough free time to nurture both your mental and physical health. In other words, having the freedom and flexibility to choose your hours as a nurse can also help you take control of scheduling self-care practices when you are not on shift. And at the end of the day, what’s more important than feeling well both emotionally and physically? 

With that in mind, whether you are hours away from switching from full-time to per diem nursing, or are still on the fence, rest assured that per diem nursing can provide a great work-life balance. And while the decision to transition from a regular nursing role to a per diem nursing role can seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. As a matter of fact, you may want to start by handing in a resignation letter to go from full-time to per diem nursing. From there, you can sit back and know that whatever career path you choose, your happiness is the secret to being a better nurse overall! 

Oh, and don’t forget to browse a few awesome PRN shifts here. 

Written by Jenna Elizabeth

Jenna Hall is a freelance writer, yoga teacher, and travel fanatic with over ten years of experience in professional blogging. She graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Shortly after graduation, Jenna headed to Latin America with a small leather journal, a disposable camera, and a pipe dream of being a travel writer on the go. After making a pit stop in Guatemala and receiving her 200-Hour Hatha Yoga Certification, Jenna was picked up by a Portland, Oregon-based active wear company to write for their blog on travel and wellness. She returned to the states, joined the corporate world for a stint, and then in 2014, Jenna permanently moved to South America to work at a local non-profit in Cochabamba, Bolivia to help with grant writing. She’s now published in several online publications and is known for gobbling up Bolivian street food until her tummy hurts, making sassy jokes in Spanish, and attempting to dance Salsa like a local. Clearly, Jenna has found her place in the world and continues to write and live a simple life in Bolivia with her husband and two kids.

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