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Nursing PRN Work and Part Time: What's the Difference?

Diversity in Choices

If you're a CNA, CMA, LPN, or an RN, you've got a license to work in one of the most diverse fields of professional occupations. You've got diversity in terms of employment settings; hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, private practices, public health centers, and on and on goes the list. You've got diversity in terms of certifications and specialties. And big lucky you, you've got diversity in terms of how much you want to work.

How Much Work Do You Want?

You can work as a travel nurse, experiencing the variety of cultures our country has to offer by working a contract in one location and then taking a week or two break before heading off to another place.You can work full time, experiencing the benefits of retirement savings and family medical coverage plans through your employers.You can work part time, experiencing the benefits of having regular work and still having time to do other things with your life; whether it be taking care of a family, having free time to do hobbies that you love, or working another job.You can work PRN, experiencing the freedom of choosing exactly where you want to work and which shifts you want to work on a weekly (or daily!) basis.


The above descriptions are rather general, and while apt it should be helpful to try and hammer down definitions for them.The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a logical source to turn to for information on the topic:"The Act requires that employees must receive at least the minimum wage and may not be employed for more than 40 hours in a week without receiving at least one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for the overtime hours."However, the FLSA does not actually specify the number of hours worked that qualify as full time or part-time. They instead view it as a matter to be defined by the employer.If we look to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), they have definitions, not for use of legal terms, but in order to have defined statistics and analyses.According to the BLS, " In Current Population Survey (CPS) statistics published by BLS, people are classified as full- or part-time workers based on the number of hours they usually work each week.

  • Full-time workers are those who usually work 35 or more hours per week.
  • Part-time workers are those who usually work fewer than 35 hours per week."

To define PRN, we can look to the Merriam Webster medical dictionary online. They state PRN is the abbreviation of the Latin term "pro re nata" which means "as needed". It is common for us to see medications prescribed as PRN, and similarly we can work PRN, which we also refer to as per diem nursing.

Per Diem Nursing Made Easier with Nursa™

We believe in the power of accessibility for nurses. Whether you are a retired nurse but want to keep your license's status active, or are responsible for taking care of your family but want to be able to make some extra money now and then, or want extra income for a period of time to save up for a purchase; per diem nursing can be your bread and butter. Finding PRN shifts at medical facilities near you is easier now than ever before with our Nursa™ application. We've brought everything right to you through this app. Medical facilities and hospitals that have shifts they need covered post them in our system, and licensed RNs, LPNs, CNAs, and CMAs apply to fill those PRN shifts directly through the app.

Things to Consider

We love PRN shifts and love that we can make it easier for nurses to connect with facilities that need their help shift by shift. But it is important that you understand what sets PRN shifts apart from part time work or even full time work. Here's a few things to consider:

  1. Your weekly income will vary - Some of you will choose on a shift by shift basis, some of you may make agreements with facilities on a weekly basis. Your income will obviously vary based on how many PRN shift you pick up, and on how many PRN shifts are available. There may be weeks where you can pick up as many as you want, and other weeks where you want PRN shifts but only find a few that fit your needs. Ask yourself if you can be okay with the idea that you aren't guaranteed a certain number of hours of work per week.
  2. You may not be eligible for benefits - Depending on the facility and whatever agreement is part of your chosen PRN shift, you may not be available for benefits that would typically accompany full or part time work. That is something to clarify with the facility's HR department. We thought of that already however, and have made it possible for you to communicate directly with the facility through our Nursa™ app.
  3. PRN shifts are typically the shifts the full and part time staff could not or did not want to cover- That means exactly what you think it means. PRN shifts will be the unwanted shifts, which means holidays, nights, or weekends may be what is most commonly available.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that working PRN shifts can be a great side income for any RN, LPN, CNA, or CMA who has other responsibilities in life that make it difficult to commit to a set number of hours or a set schedule for the week. Our users include medical professionals who are retired but like to work here and there, those who have stepped back from full time work to raise a family, those who have pursued another career but still want to keep their licenses current, or those who are already working full time but need a financial bump up from time to time.

Download Our App and Register Today!

If this sounds like it could be right for you, download our app to your smart phone today. Get registered, and set up your professional profile to share your licenses and certifications directly with employers. We make it easy for you to get connected with Nursa™.


Booher, RN
Blog published on:
May 6, 2020

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