Guide To Per-Diem Nursing

Are you looking for some extra shifts or just a change of pace in your job? A career in per diem nursing offers individuals the option to be in the driver’s seat of their career! Choose the shifts that fit your life schedule and the facilities that you want to work in when you have a per diem nursing job. Learn more about per diem nursing and what a nursing career with MAS Medical Staffing could look like!

“Per Diem” means “by the day.” In other words, nurses working in a per diem role are essentially working on call. Working on call means different things based on the facility or organization. For example, the nurse may be called same-day for sick calls.
  • You may not be able to work all the shifts you need to pay your bills. …
  • You will get floated to other units first. …
  • You do not get paid vacation time. …
  • You will not get that much sick time. …
  • You will have decreased job security. …
  • Your job will not offer you health insurance.

Per Diem Nursing | What is it and Should You Do it?

The difference between per-diem and part-time work

There are differences between per-diem and part-time work. Differences include:

Per diem


What does it mean to be a per-diem nurse?

A per diem nurse works as needed for a hospital or facility. Their pay is directly connected to the hours they work. Working per diem can be temporary, but some nurses work per diem instead of working full time as a staff nurse.

Benefits of per-diem nursing work

Caitlin Brown, BSN, RN, has been a nurse for a year and a half and is already accustomed to working two jobs. In addition to her full-time job as a nurse on a Med/Surg floor, she picks up per-diem shifts. Caitlin chooses to work per-diem for a variety of reasons, but mainly because shes “in desperate need of a new car.” Caitlin describes her car as being on its “last leg”.

Picking up per-diem shifts has helped Caitlin tremendously. “Being able to pick up extra shifts on my own time has been very helpful. I have been able to save for a car while continuing to pay off my student loans, save for a house and pay my monthly bills due to the extra shifts I pick up.”

Kristine Gaynor, BSN, RN, picks up per diem shifts to pay for her childrens education. She works on a Med/Surg floor and has picked up per diem shifts for the past year. Kristine states, “I want to have enough to send my children to college without the worry of student loans.” She also picks up shifts to save for a dream home, vacation and unforeseen expenses.

Other financial benefits of working per-diem nursing shifts include:


Working per diem for nurses provides flexibility with scheduling. Sometimes because it is short notice, per-diem shifts pay more than regular nursing shifts. Caitlin points out, “Working per diem is ideal because you can pick up shifts on your own time and can make your own schedule.”

Expand your nursing skill set

When you work a per-diem job, you may be assigned to work on an unfamiliar unit. Caitlin says, “Working per diem allows me to work at different hospitals within the system and get a view of what different sites are doing.” Although working on a new unit can be unfamiliar, it is also an excellent way to be exposed to different nursing skills.

Work at various facilities

You can work at different hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, etc., as a per-diem nurse. Caitlin likes the fact that she can work at different facilities within the hospital because it allows her to meet new people and network. It also allows her to do work that is different from her full-time position.

Grow your career through different specializations

As a per diem nurse, you have the choice to work in different specialties. For example, if you work in the adult ER, you may want to pick up shifts in the pediatric ER. Some hospitals will train you before you start. Being exposed to other specialties allows you to gain additional skills and experience and grow in your career.

Higher pay

Nurses who work per-diem jobs typically get paid more for a variety of reasons. These rates vary from state to state. They get paid more because:

Seasonal work opportunities

You can work per diem seasonally as well. Nurses like to take vacations during the holidays, like Christmas or summer vacation. Hospitals may hire more per-diem nurses during this time so their staff can take time off.

Since COVID-19, there have been plenty of per-diem jobs for nurses. Some of these shifts are working at the bedside or working at testing sites. However, these shifts are short-term; some nurses like that they provide a good cushion for extra income.

Cons of working as a per diem nurse

Working full-time as a nurse can be stressful and cause burnout. Its important to be aware of this when picking up per-diem shifts. Picking up too many shifts can cause you to spread yourself too thin.

Kristine makes sure not to overdo it. “I will continue to pick up shifts here and there as long I feel mentally and physically capable of doing so. I try to make sure I never overwork or cause burnout.”

Lack of benefits

If you choose to work per diem full time, be prepared not to have medical benefits. Nurses who work per-diem jobs usually keep their full-time status at one facility to keep their benefits. Some nurses choose to stay on their spouse or partners healthcare insurance.

Hours arent guaranteed

Hours are not guaranteed when working per diem. This is one of the disadvantages of working per diem. Hospitals can cancel you at any time. To make sure this doesnt happen, you might want to work with a nurse staffing agency that offers multiple per diem nursing jobs.

Expect to float to different floors

If you choose to work per diem, you may float to different floors. Floating refers to moving from one unit to another. Nurses who work per-diem jobs may see floating as a pro or con. Floating to a different floor may cause anxiety because you are not familiar with how things are run on the floor, but some nurses may find this helps to continue to develop their skills as a nurse.

Is working per-diem shifts worth it?

Working per diem can help you save up for something in particular or pay down debt. It does require discipline and strategies to achieve those goals. Caitlin and Kristine advise to:

Caitlin and Kristine make it a priority not to spread themselves too thin. Here are some tips they advise to keep burnout on the back burner when picking up per-diem shifts:

Working per diem can be an excellent way to save and provide an extra source of income. It allows for exploring other nursing fields and specialties and a way to meet new nurses and see how different hospitals operate.


What does per diem nursing mean?

What is per diem nursing, exactly? The phrase itself means “per day in Latin, and in the healthcare profession it literally means temporary employment that could be one day or several days, usually filling in for a hospital or healthcare facility’s unexpected gap in coverage.

What is the difference between PRN and per diem?

Some people say PRN and some people say Per Diem. PRN initials stand for “pro re nata” a Latin phrase that means as needed. Per Diem is a Latin phrase that means “by the day”. Whether you say PRN or you Per Diem, it means that daily needs.

Is a per diem job worth it?

Benefits. The main difference between a per-diem job and a part-time job is the potential for benefits. When you work a part-time job, your employer may provide benefits, such as health insurance and paid time off. However, as a per-diem employee, you likely won’t get any benefits.

What does per diem shift mean?

What is a per diem job? Per diem jobs are a type of role or position where an employee takes shifts at their preference. This could be a contractor role or an on-demand position. This type of job is common in the healthcare industry and in education.

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