Whether you have been in the medical industry for several years, or you have recently graduated, becoming an agency nurse can transform both your job and your lifestyle, helping to improve your overall work/life balance. There are a plethora of worthy reasons as to why you should consider taking the route to become an agency nurse. From flexible hours to around the clock support, there are many aspects of agency nurse work that is highly desirable. If you are considering changing your role and experimenting with working in various settings, then we have put together all of the information you need to know to aid your decision. Not only will we answer the question “what is an agency nurse?” but also run through the wealth of benefits of working alongside a medical recruitment agency.
What Is An Agency Nurse?
An agency nurse, also known as a locum nurse, is a qualified healthcare professional who does not hold a permanent position at just one hospital or medical centre. Instead, agency nurses take on different positions, shifts and environments depending on their requirements. Their work is sourced through a medical locum agency, who will work with many different clients (healthcare organisations) across the country. When a temporary position arises, or a shift needs to be covered, the client will contact the agency, requesting for them to find the perfect candidate to fill the role. Vacancies will then be forwarded onto to the locum nurses who fit the criteria of the role, who can then choose as to whether they would like to take on the position. This means that, as an agency nurse, you could be working in one hospital one day and a different the next.
What Are The Benefits Of Becoming An Agency Nurse?
Before delving into the benefits of becoming an agency nurse, here is some advice on what to consider ahead of beginning your new career path. First, make sure that before you apply, you know precisely what sort of role you are looking for and how many hours you can commit to. Carefully consider the type of work you are looking to do, whether this is similar to your current job or something entirely new. Think about whether you would rather work in a care home, hospital or another care facility – perhaps you may want to experiment with a mixture of environments? You then need to think about the number and type of shifts you would prefer to work, taking into consideration your lifestyle and family commitments. Together, keeping these factors in mind will ensure that you can make the most out of every position that you take on, reaping the full benefits of every nursing agency job. Just some of the many benefits include the following:
- Flexible Hours
- Around The Clock Support
- Career Development
- Competitive Pay
- Variety Of Working Environments
- Travel To New Locations
- Perfect For Networking
If you have commitments at home, young children or are easing your way into retirement, then the flexibility that comes alongside becoming a locum nurse will most definitely work towards your advantage. The flexible hours available remains one of the most common reasons as to why individuals take on temporary positions, as opposed to a fixed schedule. Working with an agency also means that while you will still have set shifts and hours to work each day, there is no minimum or maximum number of contract hours overall. This makes it super easy to control your shifts.
For nurses with young children, it couldn’t be easier to work your shifts around the school run and take time off during half term, meaning that you will not have to sacrifice spending time with your family. This also avoids both the hassle and expense of arranging childcare during school holidays. When working in a permanent position, you will likely be scheduled for night shifts, which can be particularly tricky to juggle with a young family. As a locum nurse, on the other hand, if you do not want to work overnight, you can request for all shifts to be during the day.
If you are beginning to consider retirement, then becoming an agency nurse is a great way to significantly reduce your hours without having to give up work altogether. You have complete control over your shifts and can choose the hours you work to fit around your lifestyle. This means that you can work as much or little as you wish until you retire. For more tips on how to adjust to retirement, take a look at Verywell Mind.
One of the exclusive benefits of becoming an agency nurse is that you will have the dedicated support of your consultant who will provide 24/7 assistance and guidance. You will be paired with an experienced consultant, who will be responsible for taking the stress out of your job, allowing you to perform your nursing obligations to the best of your ability. Your consultant will also source all of your shifts to fit with your requirements, availability and preferences.
Whether you have been a nurse for several years or just starting your journey, there is no such thing as too much experience. When choosing the agency nursing route, there will be a wealth of opportunities to develop your career. Working with a variety of colleagues and patients will help you to gain a more comprehensive and valuable set of skills, which will undoubtedly make your CV stand out from the crowd. Stagnating in the same setting for a long period, on the other hand, can cause certain skills to go unused and forgotten about. This means that when you decide to take your career to the next level, it may become tricky to branch further from your comfort zone.
If you were to move from a permanent role to working with a locum agency, you are likely to notice that you will redevelop and reignite some of those forgotten-about skillsets. There may have been specific roles that you adored as a student nurse, yet haven’t had the opportunity to go back to since. This adds a new sense of excitement and enjoyment to your role, allowing you to experiment with different aspects of nursing. Targeting your strengths will most definitely benefit you as a nurse, making both your life and your patient’s lives easier, helping you to progress up the career ladder. The Prospects website is filled with useful information on the different career opportunities available to those with a nursing degree.
Working as an agency nurse means that you will experience more competitive pay rates, allowing you to increase your salary. Many agencies offer the option to receive weekly pay as opposed to monthly which, for many, is a highly desirable benefit of the role. Others allow you to work on a payroll; here at Medical Locums Group, we offer three days a week, but some other agencies offer daily. Moreover, if you were to opt for taking on private nursing jobs, then you can enjoy a further salary boost. You are likely to find that, with the more qualifications, training and professional skills you gain, working as an agency nurse in the private sector will help you to live comfortably for years to come. You can find more information on why working in the private sector is a sought-after option in our previous article.
If you have been working in the same environment for a number of years, then you may be looking for a change in scenery. Working for an agency means that you will never become tired of being surrounded by the same four walls, providing you with the opportunity to trial run the next steps in your career. Not only can you work in different departments but also different types of care facilities, allowing you to experience all areas of working in the medical industry.
Particularly if you have freshly graduated university, starting your nursing journey with an agency will also help you to determine which field you would like to specialise in. This is ideal if you hope to take additional training courses in the first few years of your career as you will get an idea on your strengths and weaknesses. Staying open-minded and tackling a variety of working environments in the early stages will most definitely benefit you in the long-run. Nurse Blake has put together five tips for new nurses on the Nurse.org website, which is excellent if you are feeling anxious about taking on your first role after university.
If you adore travelling and less worried about settling in one destination, then great news, as a locum nurse, you will still have the opportunity to visit new locations while developing your career. Your locum agency will spend time getting to know your personality, meaning that if they know you are happy to branch further, then they will send you shifts across the country. You will then be able to choose the position in the cities or towns that you like the most or perhaps try visiting somewhere new!
A significant part of the nursing role is meeting new people, and when you’re always moving to new healthcare facilities, you’ll always be networking with fellow medical professionals. Here you will have the chance to work with people from all walks of life, getting to know others and most importantly, building a reputation for yourself. Creating a positive impression on those that you work alongside during placements means that you will be welcomed back when shifts next arise. If you were to choose a permanent role in the future and if they know you for your hard work during temporary positions, you’ll definitely have an advantage over other candidates.
The ability to continually network also means that you’ll be able to pick up useful tips from those who are more established in the organisation. You will have the opportunity to ask questions about their experience in the healthcare industry, asking for advice on how they took the next steps in their career.
Become An Agency Nurse & Kickstart Your Career
Everyone is different, which means that while some may be perfect for the agency nurse lifestyle, others may prefer more of a structure. However, regardless of the route that you choose, there is no doubt that locum work comes alongside a wealth of excellent benefits. Having full control over your shifts and experimenting with different roles will most definitely help to improve your work/life balance. Being a locum nurse allows you to combine your family life with your work, giving you the freedom to adapt your career to accommodate family needs.
If you are looking for nursing positions with an agency, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team at Medical-Locums Group. We are ready to pair you with a dedicated consultant who will find the perfect roles to fit with your requirements.