The Pros and Cons: Per Diem Nurse

A per diem nurse fills a critical on-the-spot need for hospitals and other care facilities on short notice. The nature of “here and now” creates the utmost demand, offering lucrative benefits for those considering the per diem contract. In addition, a per diem nurse ultimately helps fulfill a support role to offset patient counts with the existing nursing staff. Per diem nurses find themselves in acute care facilities, ICU, long-term acute care hospitals, emergency rooms, outpatient clinics, and medical-surgical nursing. Here at SwipeFox, we think per diem offers an array of unique opportunities and benefits. But with the good comes the critical. This article is all about an honest look at the pros and cons of per diem nursing.   


1. Choose When and Where to Work  

A significant advantage of a per diem nursing job is its flexible schedule. Per diem nursing offers flexibility because you are not bound to work at any fixed hospital or clinic. You can work as an ER or ICU nurse at different healthcare organizations to boost your nursing skills, so  you are not tied down to any given location. Balance work and family life by choosing the workplace and schedule as there are no strict timetables in per diem nursing.   

2. Choose the Hours You Work   

You can book your assignment online through the available shifts, by day and hour, and choose one if it fits your schedule. [Download SwipeFox to explore] You could even be able to pick up a same-day shift for some last-minute work. And if nothing appeals to you, you can wait until you see a job posting that meets your requirements.  

3. You Can Expand Your Nursing Skills  

You can expand your nursing skills by working at different hospitals and facilities. Working on new units can be an advantage to getting exposure and learning new nursing skills. You interact with new people and can get training under senior practitioners. In this way, you can grow your career and avoid burnout.   

4. Great Choice for New Nurses  

We recommend considering per diem jobs after your first full year in the profession. You can then start exploring per diem nursing if you want exposure to the top healthcare organizations before fully committing. You can check the work environment and culture of an organization and determine whether it is a good fit for you. It is just like considering a try before you buy an opportunity.  

5. Higher Income Potential  

One of the main benefits of becoming a per diem nurse is the higher income compared to a full-time role. A per diam nurse may get higher pay per shift because of the following reasons:  

  • The employer is often not paying a burden rate to cover life insurance and other benefit expenses allowing more direct pay per hour.  
  • You can pick shifts on holidays or seasonal vacations to make extra money on higher hourly rates.  
  • You can take up extra shifts or manage flu shots at clinics during the seasons of cough and cold.   
  • You get paid at a higher hourly rate because you fill a critical headcount gap that the facility needs to cover.  
  • You can get paid by working on specialty floors such as acute care, ER, or ICU.  


1. Income Stability  

The very nature of per diem is random. A stable income implies knowing exactly when you will be paid and how much. The randomness of per diem shifts means your pay amounts will vary based on how much you choose to work, and the option of when you are going to pay will vary on what the facility offers (same day, weekly, biweekly, etc.). Those who choose consistent per diem gigs (like SwipeFox) will have no issues with a loss of income. But managing the highs and lows of varied paychecks may be difficult for some. This issue can be handled with proper planning and building a gig pipeline.   

2. Varied Job Security 

Full-time jobs guarantee hours and routine. With per diem gigs, a nurse may face the possibility of having shifts canceled. Working without a guaranteed paycheck can be incredibly stressful. You may find that your shift is canceled, leaving you without enough time to plan and figure out where your next job will be in that same window of time. Now, this isn’t common these days, but it is something one should plan for. Per diem nurses are there to fill a need. And if that need is no longer present, then the work is not guaranteed. This is unlike travel nurses, who work temporarily but sign a contract for a specified schedule over a specific period. That’s why it’s critical to monitor all available and interested per diem gigs available in your market — in case you need to pivot.   

 3. Health Insurance 

Health insurance is a luxury, but many employers do not provide health insurance to per diem workers. If you work as a per diem nurse, you are not guaranteed medical insurance by the employer. Employers rarely offer these perks to per diem nurses as this type of employment is not a fixed burden. If you are employed one day and not the next, it is nearly impossible for a facility to provide benefits. As any individual, you can consider the open market for health insurance if you do not have a partner to go through. With the opportunity to earn more per shift, this offset in the cost may not be an issue.   

 4. Other “Traditional” Benefits  

Per diem nurses are not full-time employees of the facility they work for, so they do not receive benefits such as retirement, 401k, paid time off, sick leave, etc. Therefore, SwipeFox strongly suggests that nurses interested in working through per diem consider a solid and personal savings plan for the “rainy days” of life.   

Every decision in life comes with pros and cons. Just like every decision faced can be of interest or non-interest. We all must consider the back and forth when trying something new. Here at SwipeFox, we love that back and forth. Our app is as simple as left for no, right for yes (you know, swiping). We strongly encourage registered nurses to try per diem. There is little risk to trying it for a few shifts until you want to explore another type of contract. And we are here, serving up gigs catered to you.   

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