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The Ultimate Per Diem Guide

Per Diem Nursing Explained

What is Per Diem Nursing?

In the world of nursing, ‘per diem’ means working ‘day by day,’ ‘by the day,’ or picking up individual shifts on a daily basis. Per diem nurses usually work directly with a facility as part of their per diem clinician pool, or they pick up per diem shifts through a platform like connectRN and work when and where they choose. 

Per diem nurses can also work with traditional placement agencies, where the agency will call their pool of clinicians and assign them to work the open shifts they’re recruiting for. It’s a model that usually works well for agencies, but not as much for nurses looking to control their careers.

Why Do Facilities Like Per Diem Nursing?

Managing a facility is complicated. It’s very different from running a restaurant or retail store – where if an employee calls out or doesn’t show up to work, someone else can usually quickly jump in to cover the register or help take care of the same number of customers. But it’s different for facilities. Being short staffed puts a lot of pressure on facility managers, patients, and nurses. It creates a lot of added stress and confusion for everyone involved.

The unpredictability of seasonal viruses also make per diem nurses highly desirable and extremely valuable for facilities. For example, when it comes to flu season, there’s usually a spike of people - patients and clinicians - getting sick all at once. But facilities don’t necessarily want or even need to hire a a dozen new employees for just a couple weeks or months of work. Instead, they can hire dedicated, well-educated, pre-vetted clinicians ready to work on a per diem basis, essentially bringing in backup to help solve a temporary problem.


Why Do Some Nurses Choose Per Diem?

While some per diem nurses work directly for a facility or agency and get assigned to shifts and care settings, connectRN clinicians have complete control of their schedule. 

When clinicians sign up with connectRN, they might choose to work two days at one facility, and three nights at another. Or maybe work one week a month, or just one shift a month. Clinicians’ schedules are entirely up to them, and all open shifts are conveniently available in the  connectRN app.

Traditional staffing agencies, on the other hand, typically require per diem nurses to work a certain number of hours and/or days per month, or they may mandate working one weekend per month or a certain number of nights or holidays. Clinicians also usually need to call the agency directly to work through any challenges in their schedule. 

Advantages of Per Diem

  • A more flexible schedule

  • Better work/life balance and extra time 

  • Ability to work different units or facilities

  • Gain invaluable experience working in multiple specialties, units, and floors

  • Generally earn higher pay

  • More weekends and holidays off (if you choose not to work those days)

Disadvantages of Per Diem

  • Hours are not guaranteed

  • May be hard to feel part of a full time “team”

  • No guarantee of benefits

Per Diem vs. Full-Time & Part-Time Nursing

Most nurses tend to choose full-time work simply because of the stability of a pre-planned schedule and the benefits one would expect, like health insurance, paid vacation time, retirement benefits, and tuition reimbursement. Working full time also allows nurses to build expertise in a given specialty or field, and work with the same group of nurses on a single unit.

Part-time nursing is also an option for nurses looking for the flexibility to work fewer hours, but want a guaranteed number of hours each week. Many nurses choose to go part-time merely because they want a better work/life balance, but still want the stability of working for a single unit.

Many connectRN clinicians work with connectRN in addition to a part-time or full-time job, or to test and explore new facilities and specialties. connectRN also works well for nurses who have recently relocated or are new to an area. It gives those nurses a chance to meet new people and try out a few different care settings without making any long term commitments. 

Advantages of Full - & Part-Time Nursing

  • Stability and guaranteed hours

  • Benefits that come with full-time work

  • Being part of a consistent team

  • Becoming an expert in a specialty

Disadvantages of Full - & Part-Time Nursing

  • Inflexible work schedules that can be hard to adjust

  • Work/life balance challenges

  • Inability to gain exposure to new specialties or try out new facilities

  • Benefits not guaranteed for part-time work (i.e., offered at 24, 32 hours/week, etc.)

Each job type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The bottom line is to choose a path that’s right for you. 

If you’re ready to get started with connectRN, signing up is fast and easy. We promise. All you have to do is create your profile, upload your credentials, and accept your offer. After a brief background check is cleared, you’re ready to start working. Enable push notifications in our app to receive alerts when new shifts are available in your area. It’s really that easy.

Ready to work when it works for you?