Nurses have a range of employment choices today with full and part-time options on offer both locally and abroad. Working as an agency nurse in Ireland can offer a host of advantages. If you’re considering working as an agency nurse, this article outlines its advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision on whether or not agency nursing might be the right choice for you.
What is an Agency Nurse?
An agency nurse works for an agency and will be allocated temporary roles within organisations, facilities and sometimes private homes. While roles and responsibilities vary, agency nurses generally provide healthcare and medical treatment to patients.
What is a Nursing Recruitment Agency?
A nursing recruitment agency is an organisation that provides a variety of professional nurses to healthcare providers or people that require their expertise, skills and service. Agencies generally employ nurses on short-term contracts to fill gaps and cover staff absences or provide additional help during busy periods.
The most common benefits enjoyed by agency nurses are listed below:
Agency nursing offers highly flexible working patterns. Nurses can choose from a range of shifts and decide where and when they want to work, leading to a great work-life balance. Agency nurses manage their own schedules and choose the number of hours they want to work. This is one of the aspects that is popular among the following groups:
- Working parents. It lets parents work around childcare commitments and helps reduce childcare costs.
- People that have care commitments within their own families. They might struggle with fixed working hours but still, wish to pursue their careers.
- People that need to take time off to attend special events or cover unexpected emergencies at home.
- It offers excellent options for people that like to travel without booking time off weeks in advance of their next holiday or weekend break.
- It gives nurses the potential to work more when they want to boost their earnings to save money and also reduce their working hours during periods when they have less availability.
- Retired nurses. Nurses who would like to continue working beyond retirement often find agency working to be a great way of staying in the loop and maintaining an income.
- Nurses that wish to avoid working weekends and public holidays. Agency nursing means you won’t have to miss out on spending time with friends and family at the weekend or during public holidays. Then again, if you want to cover a weekend shift with a higher pay rate and have some weekdays off instead, that’s also an option.
Excellent rate of pay
The hourly pay rate for nurses is significantly higher within agencies. Staff nurses usually receive an annual salary and benefits package whereas agency nurses receive payment for hours worked only. Below are some of the financial perks within agency nursing:
- Weekend and night shift work can be particularly lucrative periods to cover.
- If it suits your lifestyle, taking on last-minute shifts can be very well paid.
- Agencies tend to pay nurses shortly after they finish their shift which can be a great incentive.
- Nurses in permanent positions often take on additional agency hours to supplement their income.
Range of experience
One of the benefits of working for a nursing agency means you get exposure to various healthcare settings and areas within nursing. You might gain experience in hospital, residential, or elderly care. As well as building your experience and skills, the variety of experiences may help you decide on the sector where you would enjoy working permanently. Various interactions help you to build relationships quickly. As an agency nurse, you also communicate with a range of healthcare professionals, which provides terrific networking opportunities.
Agencies cover a range of areas and offer nurses the chance to work in different locations. This provides excellent scope for travelling and experiencing new locations. It can be an ideal solution for nurses that want to join a friend or family member that works away from home for long periods.
Peace of mind
Working for a top-tier nursing agency usually means you will receive support. Most agencies have high compliance standards and will advise all candidates on their training and qualifications to secure work. Nursing agencies usually ensure that the nurses meet all requirements and are qualified for the jobs. This helps nurses build confidence and fosters trust with organisations.
Access Healthcare provides a one-to-one consultant to support new candidates until they have met all job requirements and secured work. As they develop, the consultant branches out to help small groups of two or three nurses in finding work. The consultants are on hand to answer any queries or concerns.
The nursing agency gets to know the nurses and helps them find positions that align with their circumstances and lifestyles. It also has relationships with companies and facilities that need nurses and will try and match nurses with the most suitable agency.
Agency nursing generally involves more patient care and less paperwork and inventory work. Agency nurses generally finish their tasks and duties and go home at the end of the day. They are also less likely to become involved in politics at work and if they encounter an unpleasant working environment, they can choose not to work there in future.
Tips for Successful Agency Nursing
While agency nursing is rewarding and offers flexibility, you often work in new environments so frequently have to learn new names of co-workers and patients. You need to find out where important equipment is kept and often have to get used to new working infrastructures and systems quickly.
We’ve put together some tips to help your shift go as smoothly as possible:
- Arrive early. This gives you a chance to get to know and memorise the layout of the building and find out where toilets, storage cupboards and staff rooms are located. A ten-minute head start will save you time later.
- Be prepared. Have your ID badge on and your key fob handy, so you can start the day feeling organised. Keep a pen and notebook close so you can write things down.
- Carry a pager or a fully charged phone. Get the numbers of people you might need to contact while you’re on duty. Certain jobs need to be done in pairs and sometimes it can be hard to find co-workers to help you on the spot. Having a contact number can let people know you need help quickly.
- Bring snacks and plenty of water. Nursing is a physically demanding job so you need to be hydrated and well-nourished to keep up your energy levels. Although it shouldn’t be your first question, ask when your breaks are scheduled. If you don’t get one tell your supervisor.
- Ask for an induction. Hospitals and care homes organise inductions for new staff members. This is essential as you will need an introduction to the work setting and a chance to learn about procedures and policies. You also need to establish your roles and responsibilities while working there.
- Pay attention during handover. It’s important not to miss vital information from the nurse you are taking over from, so make sure you listen well and ask plenty of questions. Write down important information.
- Ask questions. Even if co-workers seem under pressure and you don’t want to bother them, you need to get all the necessary information to do your job safely and professionally. Patient care is the priority and people expect agency nurses to ask questions.
- Find out who fills in your timesheet early. This is information you don’t want to look for after your shift ends. Try and get forms filled in before home time.
- Introduce yourself to anyone you meet for the first time and tell them you’re new. Be pleasant and polite. Tell your supervisor and your agency if you enjoyed your shift and would like to work there again. There’s a good chance they’ll have you back.
Nursing agencies can help you find regular work and they offer great pay and work flexibility. If you think agency nursing might match your needs contact Access Healthcare to talk about suitable nursing opportunities in Ireland.
For more information on the benefits of being an agency nurse in Ireland, get in touch with Ryan O’Flaherty.
+353 1 901 5271