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Nursing Career: Is It Better To Be Full Time, Part Time, or Per Diem?

Being a nurse actually comes with many benefits like flexibility of schedule, contrary to popular belief that nurses can’t manage their own time. You can actually tailor fit your schedule to match your lifestyle, as nursing jobs offer a variety of options.

You can do this by checking out if the nursing role is full time, part-time, or per diem. A combination of these may even work, as long as you properly look at their pros and cons.

No need to worry if you’re not familiar with these yet, we’ve rounded up a quick review into each. Read on to find out how to make the most of your time as a nurse:

Full-Time Nurse

Full-Time NurseThe most common set-up among nursing professions is a full-time role. It presents many attractive benefits such as stability, among many others.

Stability is one of its prime selling points, as you will have the reassurance of a stable lifestyle with a plotted, consistent schedule. You won’t have to work outside of your shifts, and you’ll know essentially what you’ll be doing for the rest of your stay in the hospital.

The benefits that come with a regular job are worth mentioning as well. As a regular employee, you get to enjoy health insurance, holiday leaves, retirement benefits, and a myriad of perks that the health care institution you may work for offers. Some hospitals even offer educational benefits for nurses who want to further their studies, as they can become a great asset to the institution. The longer the time you render at an organization, the better the benefits are.

Going full-time is the perfect path for those who are newly-minted nurses, as they can get the comprehensive experience of the job. Nurses with full-time shifts get to learn in a consistent environment that will help put their learnings into practice, all the while being guided by their seniors.

By being surrounded by the same group of people, you also get to build camaraderie and learn from your peers. Working in one single unit helps you expect the needs of your superiors and doctors, and how to work with other nurses.

The other side of the coin, however, is that some nurses find that working full-time lacks flexibility in their schedule. As having a fixed schedule means that you won’t be able to move around your shifts for personal endeavours, it can lead to a lack of time for your personal life.

Another disadvantage is that by being assigned to a singular speciality, you won’t get to explore other options. You won’t have as much freedom to move around departments and figure out which field of nursing you’re perfect for.

Our tip is that if you value stability over freedom, and benefits over flexibility, then going full-time may be perfect for you.

Part Time

As a part-time nurse, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds. You’ll get to manage your own schedule while having the reassurance of guaranteed hours.

While the working hours vary from hospital to hospital, the typical hours are usually 24 hours per week or 32 hours per week. Given this minimum, nurses are required to plot their schedules ahead of time, as most hospitals require a minimum number of hours per week for a nurse to be able to reap the employee benefits.

By having more flexibility in your schedule compared to a full-time routine, you will be able to make time for your social life. You can avoid the burden that comes with regular nurses which is usually their lack of a work-life balance brought about by their demanding shifts.

A more flexible schedule also allows for you to be able to avoid burnout, which is a problem that is most prevalent in the healthcare world. You will be able to make time for yourself and focus on things outside of your profession.

Essentially, part-time employees are given fewer hours than a full-time one. It is the discretion of the hospital as there is no federal mandate for what the part-time hours are. You should always consult with the human resources department, and clarify what the required time is.

With your guaranteed hours, you’ll also be able to become part of a consistent team.

One of the worries of nurses looking to work part-time is that they’ll have to keep adjusting to different sets of people every shift. However, with the part-time setup, you’ll pretty much be with the same group of people, albeit for a lesser amount of time.

Another advantage is that you won’t be limited to just one speciality. You may choose various art time shifts that have different fields to further hone your skills in each. A common case is that nurses tend to take on two, or multiple, part-time jobs as they have the freedom to choose their own schedule.

However, this life is not all about the benefits. There are also some drawbacks, like not having access to the full benefits of a regular nurse. These can come in the form of a lesser coverage on healthcare insurance, or fewer days off, to name a few.

Per Diem

Per DiemPer diem, or “as needed”, is a role in which you will not be guaranteed any hours, but you will not be tied down to one organisation as well.

The benefits, however, are still worth considering. With the per diem shifts, you’re usually called in whenever hospital staff is short-handed due to sick leaves, holiday leaves, or a greater demand for nurses due to emergencies.

This means that you’re free to do whatever you want, and you’ll only need to put in hours whenever the hospital needs it. Among the three shifts we’ve presented, this is the one that’s heavy on flexibility, as the hospital will not be able to compel you to work if you are unavailable.

Another advantage is that you can increase your hourly rate through this. The more experience you get, and the more the hospital needs you, the higher your rate can be. You’ll be exposed to more specialities of nursing thus, your skills will be of value to employers.

What nurses usually do with these shifts is that they couple it with another regular job, commonly home care, to be able to take in extra income. It’s a good option for those who find themselves with more free time than they’d like, and would rather be productive instead of letting time pass by.

However, per diem jobs are usually offered to nurses who have a bit more experience. This is understandable as they need someone who already knows their way around the job as the hospital’s needs is urgent.

Each nurse is different, and you should carefully consider which career path is right for you. Remember that you are not just limited to one form of a shift, as there is a way to mix and match these to accommodate your lifestyle.

It’s recommended that you start off with a full-time shift so you can get a full lowdown on what the nursing job is, and then figure out what working hours will work best for you. Once you’ve found your rhythm, you’ll be able to attest that nurses can find the perfect work-life balance.

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