8 pros and cons of agency work

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It seems that everywhere you look these days—from newspapers and nurse magazines to job fairs and even online—nurses are bombarded with agency employment offers: “Set your own hours!” “Travel to exciting locations!” “Make $50 or more per hour!” Sure, the offers sound great, but are they too good to be true?

If you’re considering working for an agency, you have some choices: Do you want to continue your present job and supplement your income? Do you want to work strictly for the agency? Keep in mind that there are different types of agencies out there. Some will be local, while others are strictly out of town or out of state. Some withhold income taxes and some don’t, leaving the nurse responsible for paying Uncle Sam. Some agencies are accredited through the state and some aren’t.

As a nurse who has worked exclusively for agencies in the past year, I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons to give you the real scoop on agency nursing.

Pros of agency work

  • Working your own hours
  • Making more money per hour
  • Having great variety in your job
  • Traveling to different locations
  • Reducing the chance of burnout from working the same old job with the same old coworkers and patients day after day
  • Becoming a more confident, capable and professional nurse
  • Supplementing your income
  • Getting tons of tax deductions

Cons of agency work

  • Work may not always be available when you want to work. Your job depends on other nurses calling in.
  • If you don’t work, you don’t get paid (there are no paid sick days or holidays!)
  • Not being familiar with patients and their needs
  • Sleeping in hotel or dorm beds instead of your own bed
  • Often, agencies offer no benefits (such as medical/dental insurance or retirement)
  • Immediately being disliked or having other nurses be rude to you simply because they know you make more money than they do for the same job, and they have to help you
  • If your agency doesn’t withhold income taxes, you may have to spend the extra money you made paying them
  • Keeping every receipt for tax purposes

Nurses, have you ever considered agency work? Sound off in the comments section below!

Rachael Rainer, LPN, works in a long-term healthcare facility as well as for two different agencies. She’s been nursing for four years, is married and has six children, all still living at home.

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