A nursing career is a broad profession that provides you with many options and paths. There are varying benefits with this highly in-demand profession that allows you to ebb and flow your experiences as you need. With per diem nursing contracts, a nurse can explore various facilities and settings, making it a possibility to be considered while exploring career paths. This article explores how a nurse could leverage per diem contracts to fast-track a nursing career.
To be blunt — per diem offers more control over a schedule, the potential of better per-hour pay, and a break from the stressful full-time nursing jobs. But those are just the overarching perks of per diem. Let’s break down the process of becoming a licensed nurse and how to continue growing the career.
What is NCLEX?
NCLEX is one of the first things to complete after graduating from nursing school. You may find it one of the best achievements of your life to pass the NCLEX on the first attempt. The goal is to be a registered nurse who has completed a nursing program degree and passed the licensing exam. Registered nurses fall into several categories based on their areas of expertise. After earning a BSN degree, you need to enroll for a licensure examination. NCLEX is the National Council Licensure Examination that tests the knowledge, skills, and abilities that an entry-level nurse must have to satisfy the needs of patients and healthcare facilities. You can also enroll in higher education and receive certifications to demonstrate to future employers that you have completed specialized education and training.
You become a registered nurse (RN) after earning a college degree in nursing and passing the NCLEX. Now you have all the options to explore, including contract-based or travel nursing, per diem, permanent roles, and specialties such as med surge, ICU, ER, OR, etc.
Here are some simple steps that you, or anybody else, can consider using per diem contracts to grow exposure and skills in nursing.
Give it a Year or Two, First
First and foremost, SwipeFox recommends that a nurse considers per diem after completing at least a full year (or two) of nursing. Some nurses prefer primary care hospitals or acute care, while others consider clinics. Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities provide opportunities for newly licensed nurses to observe experienced nurses while preparing to work independently on the med surge, ER, or ICU floors. This first year or two of mentorship is critical prior to starting with a per diem contract.
You should stay with a permanent facility for at least a year to learn and be mentored. You will get the experience, skills, and knowledge in a specific field to get hired as a per diem nurse.
Evaluation of a Per Diem Assignment
One of the most appealing aspects of per diem nursing is the wide range of settings where you can work. A few options are hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities where you can work as an RN. Start by showing your interest in jobs (that’s a ‘swipe right’ in SwipeFox). Many hospitals will offer entry-level nursing employment for those with 1-2 years of experience up to those with an extensive work history. Just make sure to review the requirements for candidates before you swipe right.
If per diem is new to you, consider your skills and use them for your first per diem gigs. For instance, if you have med surge experience, consider a per diem contract in med surge. That way, you are learning and experiencing a new type of work contract instead of that plus a new specialty. Take it easy on yourself and rely on your skills to help get you started. Check out our blog that gives you the top 3 benefits of pursuing a per diem opportunity.
Start with a Familiar Facility
Build that confidence with gigs based on skill and then consider trying to move from med surge to ICU (Intensive Care Unit) — just an example. In other words, begin exposing your skill sets to know specialty environments. This exposure may shine a light on you seeking additional certifications and/or degrees. But at a minimum, it expands your skillsets.
Gain Exposure to New Systems
The healthcare industry is evolving and changing. Successful nurses emphasize the value of continuous learning and make the efforts to learn new skills and methods. Part of this expansion of knowledge mentioned above applies to systems and software. You can choose a specific facility initially that seems practical and familiar to you, but maybe there are on Epic vs. Meditech. To be a successful nurse, you must keep up with the latest advancements. You can take the time to learn new techniques and keep in mind where you must refresh your skillset.
If you do not start in the specialty that most interests you, that is not the end. You can begin with a familiar facility that seems easier to you and build from there.
Shop Before You Buy
No matter your tenure, if you feel that your nursing career is in a rut, the real benefit of per diem is the opportunity to explore. Take a few per diem day shifts to get exposure and then build upon the facilities, specialties, or systems that take your interest. Considering per diem contracts will give you proper exposure to various challenges, and how you overcome those challenges is where you grow.
Perhaps increasing your focus is the key to taking your profession to the next level. In this way, you will gain exposure to new systems and move on to another one with a newly learned system. Although working on a new facility can be worrisome, it is a fantastic way to gain experience with nursing expertise. Try to increase your exposure gradually. Use SwipeFox App to be your personal shopping buddy. Shop around — or see — what is out there. Let the app know what interests you and what doesn’t so it can cater results directly to your phone each day.