How to Pick up High-Paying PRN Jobs in Healthcare

picture of RN who works high paying jobs
Written by
Miranda Kay, RN
July 19, 2022

Per diem nursing, also known as PRN, refers to a nurse who works on-call and on a temporary basis. PRN nursing allows nurses to choose when, where, and how much they want to work. As a result, PRN jobs are becoming a lucrative choice for many full-time nurses who feel burned out by the industry. Moreover, PRN nurses often earn higher pay than full-time nurses. Subsequently, fewer hours, a competitive salary, and the ability to choose your schedule make per diem nursing one of the best professional waves to catch—especially if you are a registered nurse (RN) craving a better life-work balance. 

Yearning to leap full-time to on-call? Then read on to discover how other RNs made the "switch" from full-time nursing to PRN nursing and have finally found an outstanding balance between work and recreation.

Travel Nursing vs. Per Diem Nursing

Some people use the terms travel nursing and per diem nursing interchangeably, yet the two careers have some key differences. In a nutshell, PRN nursing gives an RN an extraordinary amount of freedom. In other words, a PRN nurse can decide to pick up shifts whenever they want. Additionally, PRN nurses can choose if they're going to work holidays, weekends, or night shifts. PRN nurses tend to pick up PRN jobs in their local area, while a travel nurse can be contracted to work anywhere across the US. Consequently, PRN nursing can be a great career choice for a parent who wants to expand their nursing knowledge while maintaining financial security for their family. 

Travel nursing generally signs a nurse to work for a set amount of time on contract (usually 13 weeks) and can place a registered nurse anywhere in the country. Furthermore, a travel nursing contract will have a schedule that cannot be modified. On the contrary, a travel nursing career requires, well, you guessed it—travel. And while travel nursing may not offer as much freedom as PRN nursing, it can be an excellent opportunity for nurses looking to expand their skills, meet friends, and discover new places. 

How much do PRN nurses make?

PRN nurses have an advantage over full-time nurses because PRN nurses tend to make a higher pay per hour. That's because PRN nurses don't receive the added benefits that full-time nurses do, which leads to a higher allotted budget for PRN shifts. Moreover, per diem nurses can be called in for shifts on an emergency basis—making PRN coverage valuable. In either case, according to one national average, a per diem nurse makes around $73,018 a year, or $35 an hour. This, of course, can vary depending on what part of the country a nurse picks up a PRN shift. That being said, San Francisco is currently one of the highest-paying cities for PRN nurses. Ultimately, the competitive hourly rates that PRN nursing offers are highly competitive. Consequently, PRN nursing maintains its reputation as one of the best fields to work in as a registered nurse. 

What Are Other PRN Nurses Saying? 

Positive testimonials continue to flood in from nurses all over the country that decided that switching from full-time to PRN work was the right career move. With that said, here's a glimpse into the minds of a few RN nurses (now PRN nurses) who took that magical leap of faith and are now loving their newfound freedom.

"I have worked PRN as an RN and rarely agreed to extra last-minute shifts. I had four kids (5 now), and the entire reason I worked PRN was so that I would be home most of the time" – BSN, RN, Specializing in SICU.

"I decided to become a nurse solely because I wanted to one day be a travel nurse. However, after two years of hospital experience I promised myself I would have under my belt, I ended up feeling trapped in the dead-end staff job for another two years. I picked up PRN shifts and made local travel contracts for about a year before I made the leap. I packed the family in our RV and finally took on travel assignments far from home. For me, PRN jobs were the best way to get my feet wet and experience what it's like to walk into a new facility prepared to work that day" – Miranda Booher RN.

PRN Nursing: Is It for You?

As you can see, moving from full-time RN work to PRN work can be liberating — but is it a good choice for you? Perhaps you are a nursing student looking for flexibility; or a parent who would like to spend more time with your family. Or maybe you feel burned out from a full-time work schedule and need a break. The best way to decipher whether or not becoming a PRN nurse is the right fit for your lifestyle is to take inventory of your current lifestyle. 

That being said, at the end of the day, you don't need an excuse to choose PRN work. If a bit of freedom is what you need, and your gut feeling is saying a career in PRN nursing is correct—then go for it! Trust that you are making the right decision, and get excited to build a career that fits your lifestyle. 

Get inspired and start your journey in PRN nursing today. Browse PRN jobs on Nursa and pick up a PRN shift near you. Or, learn more about us here!

Blog published on:
July 19, 2022

Miranda is a Registered Nurse, Medical Fact Checker, and Publishing Editor at Nursa. Her work has been featured in publications including the American Nurses Association (ANA), Healthcare IT Outcomes, International Living, and more.

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