As facilities scramble to cover their staffing needs in face of the ever-growing nursing shortage, per-diem nurses are in higher demand than ever. Regardless, not all per-diem contracts are created equal, and you should go over each job offer with a fine-tooth comb before accepting a contract. Here are five points that deserve special attention before you sign up.
What to look for in a per-diem nursing contract
1. Shift differentials
Shift differentials can turn a mediocre hourly wage into practically a gold mine – if you’re willing to work at unsavory hours, that is. Be aware, however, that not all facilities offer the same shift differential pay for per-diem employees as they do for regular staff. If you’re planning on taking advantage of weekends and the night shift to earn extra money, make sure shift differentials are directly addressed in your contract.
2. Float responsibilities
Travelers and per-diem staff usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to float duties. If floating to different units is appealing to you, this is a good thing. After all, variety is the spice of life! For those who like to settle into a routine after clocking in, however, it might be worth addressing float duties while negotiating your contract. At the very least, it can be helpful to know what to expect before signing.
3. Minimum hours
If you’re trying to balance a per-diem job with another nursing position or personal responsibilities, you’ll need to look carefully at what your new contract requires. Are you obligated to work a minimum amount of hours every week? Since many nurses seek out per-diem work because of its flexibility, make sure your new obligations won’t conflict with other responsibilities.
4. Variable shifts
For some, the ability to choose flexible shifts that suit their weekly needs is a blessing; for others switching from days to nights and then back again is a nightmare (except you never get to sleep). Most per-diem workers are able to choose or reject shifts at will, but it is still worth confirming what the facilities primary needs are before you begin.
5. Additional benefits
By nature, per-diem positions are almost certain not to include traditional benefits, such as paid leave and insurance. You can, however, often milk a few extra perks out of a contract. For example, per-diem nurses can often benefit from hospital-provided education, such as free CEUs. Other contractors benefit from employee discounts at local businesses, including memberships at gyms and other clubs. Checking to ensure your contract secures these rights can add significant value to a PRN agreement.
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