Dos and don’ts for agency nurses


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The road to a successful agency nursing career isn’t always smooth. There’s etiquette involved, just like any other realm of nursing. If you think agency nursing is the path for you, check out these dos and don’ts to help you get started.



Dos and don’ts for agency nurses


  • Show up on time or even a little early.
  • Ask your agency about uniforms/colors.
  • Be polite to everyone.
  • Ask plenty of smart questions.
  • Have a confident, positive attitude.
  • Confirm your appointment the shift before you’re due.
  • Be open and willing to learn new things like computer systems—the more you know, the better your chances of getting placed more often will be.
  • Take careful notes when given report.
  • Make time to introduce yourself to your CNAs—they are your lifeline!
  • Keep in touch with your agency; don’t just sit and wait for them to call you.
  • Give your agency feedback on your assignments: Do you want to go back or not, and why?
  • Be open-minded and flexible enough to try new ideas—yours may not always be what works best.
  • Bring your own supplies such as scissors, tape, a stethoscope and a name badge with your first name and title on it.


  • Be late.
  • Dress slouchy—no wrinkled or worn-out scrubs!
  • Be rude or cocky to staff.
  • Assume you know everything—you don’t!
  • Accept assignments for areas in which you’re not comfortable or competent. This could land you in trouble, cause you to be placed on a facility’s “DNR” (Do Not Return) list and make your agency look bad. Be honest with yourself and your agency about which areas you are comfortable working in.
  • Discuss your agency pay with regular staff members. This is not only unprofessional, but also can cause resentment, leading to them not being willing to help you out when you need it.
  • Use your cell phone unless it’s an emergency.
  • Get caught up in gossip about any facility. People know if you blab about other places, you’ll blab about them or their facility, too.
  • Skimp on your documentation. We all learned the proper way to chart in nursing school. And remember, your documentation is your only defense in CYA!

What can you add to the list? Do you have any advice for agency nurses who are just starting out?

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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