Per Diem vs. Travel Nursing – Which is Better?

First and foremost, if you have chosen a nursing career, kudos and thank you! Being a nurse is a great and selfless profession. Nurses are devoted workers who care for their patients and provide them with treatment, care, and support. So, when we say per diem vs. travel, we think both are rather stellar career moves. This article explores two types of nursing contracts alternative to the traditional, full-time, permanent nursing positions.   

Full-time nurses have a strict schedule and responsibility for connecting with their assigned patients and healthcare facilities. This option will always be available to you, but in unprecedented times, it may be time to explore other types of opportunities to grow your career as a nurse.   

Are you feeling tired of being a regular staff nurse and want to balance your professional and family life better? If so, per diem or travel nursing could be a better option for you. If you are a registered nurse (RN) with a license (NLC) in your pocket and have a minimum of 1-to 2-year experience in the healthcare industry, you can choose the career pathways towards per diem or travel nursing.  

What’s the difference between a per diem and a travel nurse?  

Per diem nurses and travel nurses can work according to their personal preferences and lifestyle requirements. As a result, they have the flexibility a registered role doesn’t have the option for. Although per diem and travel nurses have similar flexibilities, they differ.   

 Here are the complete details on the main difference between per diem and travel nurse.  

Per Diem Nursing  

Per diem nurses usually enjoy more flexibility than travel nurses. If you become a per diem nurse, you may have the option to choose assignments that have flexible schedules and shift hours. You may work for a few hours, days, or even weeks, on a necessary basis.   

As a per diem nurse, you may be asked to work for:  

  • Holiday coverage  
  • Seasonal staffing coverage  
  • Staff on vacation  
  • Same-day sick callouts  

Per diem nurses can be assigned short-term and long-term projects, making it a good way of earning more without giving strict commitments and schedules. Keep in mind that even though flexibility is a significant benefit, you have the option to decline any offer that comes your way. Don’t decline too many job offers as they may not always be available. 

Travel Nursing 

If you want to enjoy flexibility and adventure, then a travel nursing job is the right option.   

It allows you to spend more time in other cities and enhances your experience and exposure to your field and the world. In addition, a travel nurse can get short-term and long-term projects with many perks and bonuses that are not available in per diem nursing.   

Travel nurses typically get a contract ranging from 4-13 weeks and insurance coverage, a higher salary, and a 401k saving plan. Other things that can be covered are:  

  • Mileage, gas, airfare expenses  
  • Meals  
  • Housing  

Consider that travel nurses may have difficulty balancing work and life due to constant traveling as they cannot take leaves during the contract.   

Per Diem Vs. Travel Nursing: Pros and Cons 

Per Diem Pros 

  • Take multiple jobs at a time 
  • Flexibility to spend more time with family and friends 
  • Earn extra cash by taking shifts on an hourly basis 
  • Seasonal shifts have higher pay rates 

Although per diem nursing is an on-call job. You get many advantages after becoming a per diem nurse.  

Per Diem Cons 

  • No guaranteed income 
  • No medical benefits 
  • Not a full-time career  

Per diem jobs give you less job security as the agency can cancel your shifts at any time before you start it.  

Travel nursing Pros 

  • Find work or assignments more easily than per diem nurses 
  • Work under agencies that provide constant work and income 
  • Explore new places 
  • Meet new people 
  • Exposure to new facilities 

Travel nursing Cons

  • Less flexibility, work weekends and nights 
  • Be away from family and friends 
  • May have a hard time adjusting to a new city 

Now that you know the good and the bad of both nursing roles. Here is the list of the most in-demand opportunities for per diem nurses and travel nurses 

Top in-demand opportunities for per diem nurses 

  • Medical-Surgical Nurse 
  • Emergency Room Nurse  
  • Operating Room Nurse  
  • ICU Nurse 
  • Telehealth Nurse  

 Top in-demand opportunities for travel nurses 

  • ER Nurse 
  • Medical-Surgical Nurse 
  • Telehealth and visual nurse  
  • Operating room nurse  
  • Acute care Nurse 
  • ICU Nurse 

Whether you want to be a traveling or per diem nurse, figure out what will work best for your lifestyle and personality. Once you know, check out SwipeFox. SwipeFox is an app that helps healthcare professionals like yourself find your next best job opportunity!

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