Per Diem Nursing: Pros and Cons

Per Diem Nursing: Pros and Cons

Per diem nursing has exploded in popularity and prominence within the healthcare industry. Also known as PRN nursing, many facilities and healthcare providers have praised the flexibility and diversity of options available, while some are more apprehensive to adopt it. Without a doubt, per diem nursing comes with its fair share of pros and cons. Before fully buying into it, HCPs need to be aware of all the potential tradeoffs, advantages, and unique challenges that a per diem nursing career path provides. Whether you are an experienced HCP or a fresh graduate in search of career opportunities, this guide will show you everything you need to know before becoming a per diem nurse.

What Is Per Diem Nursing?

When a nurse works “per diem,” they are hired on an as-needed basis. If a facility has a temporary shortage or is facing an unsustainably high spike in demand (usually due to staff absences, busy portions of the calendar, natural disasters causing mass injuries, or more), they turn to per diem nurses to fill in for months, days, or even single shifts. Per diem nurses have full freedom to choose where they work and how long they work.

Though it has always been around, the rise of the pandemic led to an increase in popularity. With facilities facing short term and long term shortages, more and more of them have turned to per diem staff, to stay afloat. Though the pandemic is officially over, per diem nursing jobs remain a popular and in demand staffing solution, for a multitude of reasons.

The Pros of Per Diem Nursing

  1. More scheduling flexibility

No full time nursing job can provide the kind of flexibility that per diem nurses get to enjoy. These HCPs can create work schedules that account for their previous engagements, family lives and social gatherings. Per diem nursing allows you to take extra time for yourself or book extra shifts for additional compensation. In essence, these HCPs become their own bosses, who work on their own terms.

  1. Broadening your horizons

As a per diem nurse, you have the chance to work in a variety of different healthcare settings. One shift you are working at a hospital, the next thing you know you are working in a long term care center, a school, an outpatient care center and more. With such a wide variety of work experience, HCPs can develop a deeper understanding of the various cultures, systems and workflows that they find within the healthcare industry. In the long term, this allows them to become more flexible and adaptable to whatever their current situation demands of them.

  1. Increase your earning potential

Per diem nurses are in extremely high demand. A nationwide shortage has pushed the demand for temporary HCPs up, dramatically. Compared to your full-time contemporaries, per diem hourly rates are competitive, if not higher. As a bonus, HCPs can earn additional money by simply taking up extra shifts. In comparison, overtime pay is not necessarily a given in the world of full time nursing. If you suddenly need more compensation for something, then this increase in earnability is an absolute godsend.

  1. Zero long term commitment

Unlike traditional nursing positions, per diem nursing does not tie you down to a single facility for the foreseeable future. Nurses can work at a facility for a few days, weeks, or months, depending on their preferences and the facility’s needs. Without a long term contract, per diem nurses have the freedom to change facilities at will, without the need for additional paperwork or a formal resignation. HCPs can also take a couple days off, if they feel like it is necessary for their mental health.

  1. A chance to network

Since they are working in different healthcare settings, per diem HCPs have an opportunity to build a formidable professional network filled with administrators, and fellow HCPs they have worked with. Establishing connections with colleagues and healthcare professionals across different facilities can be beneficial for career growth and future job opportunities. If you feel like returning to a full time role, or you want to find even more interesting per diem offers, this network will prove to be immensely beneficial in the future.

The Cons of Per Diem Nursing

  1. Options for benefits are limited

One of the significant drawbacks of per diem nursing is the limited access to employee benefits. Typically, per diem nurses do not receive the same benefits as full-time or part-time staff nurses. This may include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and tuition reimbursement.

  1. Compensation is inconsistent

Unlike with a full time role, per diem HCPs do not enjoy guaranteed compensation. If they are not picking up shifts, they are not earning money. Whenever demand for per diem HCPs is on a decline, finding lucrative roles may be more challenging than usual. This is why you use an app like VitaWerks, which makes use of AI matchmaking to guarantee matches with the best offers in your area. Rain or shine, VitaWerks is here to make your HCP journey easier than ever.

  1. Work conditions are constantly changing

Per diem nurses often find themselves in unfamiliar environments. Each facility has its own unique policies, procedures, and equipment, which can result in a steeper learning curve and potentially higher stress levels for per diem nurses. To succeed as an HCP, you need to be adaptable and open to change on a daily basis.

  1. Career advancement is comparatively limited

Per diem nurses may have fewer opportunities for career advancement within a specific healthcare facility compared to their full-time counterparts. Full-time staff often have more opportunities for promotions, specialized training, and leadership roles within the organization.

Is Per Diem Nursing Right for You?

Like with many things in life, per diem nursing comes with its fair share of pros and cons. Whether or not it is the perfect choice for you will depend on your inclinations, career goals, current living conditions and so much more. To help you choose, consider the following suggestions before you make any drastic career decisions. These points are not meant to sway you either way, but rather are conversations worth having with yourself.

Consider Per Diem Nursing If:

You Crave Flexibility: If having control over your work schedule is a top priority, per diem nursing may be an excellent fit. It allows you to balance work with personal life and adapt your schedule to meet changing needs.

You Seek Variety: If you enjoy diversity in your work environment and want to gain experience across different healthcare settings, per diem nursing can provide a wide range of opportunities.

You Need Higher Earnings: Per diem nursing can offer higher hourly rates and potential overtime pay. If you need more compensation in the short term, picking up a couple per diem shifts may be just what you are looking for..

You Desire a Short-Term Commitment: If you prefer short-term work commitments and the ability to explore different facilities and specialties without long-term obligations, per diem nursing is a suitable choice.

Be Cautious About Per Diem Nursing If:

You Depend on Employee Benefits: If you rely heavily on employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off, per diem nursing may not provide the comprehensive benefits you need.

You Seek Stability: If job security and consistent income are your top priorities, per diem nursing might not align with your goals, as it comes with inherent uncertainties.

You Struggle with Adapting Quickly: If you find it challenging to adapt to new work environments and policies rapidly, per diem nursing could be stressful due to its variable work conditions.

You Prefer Set Schedules: If working nights, weekends, or holidays is not feasible for you, per diem nursing may not be the best fit, as flexibility often means working at unconventional times.


Per diem nursing is an exciting new world that opens a wealth of new career opportunities for HCPs who give it a chance. HCPs have full control over their work schedules, they can gain valuable experience in a variety of different facilities, and have even higher earning potential compared to their full time counterparts. On the other hand, there is less consistency or stability, whether with compensation, benefits, or being able to pick up shifts in the first place. All this is well worth considering. If you have the flexibility, financial savvy, and the confidence, then per diem nursing can change your career path for the better.

You will not find this kind of career freedom, anywhere else. Per diem nursing empowers HCPs to guide their own careers and mold their work schedules to their liking. If you are prepared to handle all the challenges that come with it, then becoming a per diem nurse is well worth it.

Before pursuing per diem nursing, carefully weigh the pros and cons, consider your long-term career goals, and assess your financial needs. Additionally, it’s essential to stay informed about local labor laws and regulations related to per diem nursing in your area to ensure you are aware of your rights and protections.

The healthcare industry is in a constant state of flux. At the moment, demand for per diem nurses is at an all time high thanks to an ongoing HCP shortage. Book shifts with VitaWerks, to make sure that you are updated with the latest per diem offers, and the best rates in your area. We will instantly match you with the finest hospitals and facilities around, to guarantee your happiness.

Read: The Best Apps for Per Diem Nursing Shifts

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