Per diem nursing is a form of nursing which is provided on an as-needed basis. Nurses who work per dieum can be under contract to a nursing agency or a hospital, stepping in to fill in as needed. This type of nursing allows for a lot of flexibility as well as an opportunity to work in many different work environments, but it also comes with some disadvantages.
Hospitals, clinics, and home nursing agencies often have a need for temporary labor to fill in gaps in their schedules. Per diem nurses can be used to fill in for people who are sick, to provide extra coverage during major medical crises, and to provide people with time off for maternity leave or a simple vacation. Per diem and travel nursing are often compared, except that travel nursing involves longer rotating assignments which can last for months, while a per diem nurse can sometimes have a new job every day.
Per diem nurses are usually not offered benefits. However, they are offered higher pay than regular nurses, in part because they do not receive benefits, and in part to recognize their flexibility and utility. A nurse who has certified in one or more nursing specialties can receive even more money, especially in a critical nursing shortage. Sometimes, a per diem assignment at a facility like a hospital can generate an offer of full time employment.
Just like other nursing professionals, people involved in per diem nursing must be fully trained, certified, and qualified nurses. They are expected to maintain professional certifications, and many are members of professional organizations of nurses so that they can keep up with trends in the nursing field. A person who works as a per diem nurse may appreciate the flexible scheduling which allows him or her to decide which shifts to pick up and when, but she or he also needs to be prepared for constantly shifting work environments, and for the lack of personal connections on the job because of frequent changes in assignment.
Many nursing staffing agencies have a department which offers per diem nursing services, and some companies specialize in providing nurses as needed. People who are interested in this type of nursing can apply to such agencies for long term or temporary positions in their per diem nurse staffing departments. It helps to have extensive experience and qualifications so that the nursing agency can feel confident sending a nurse out to a client.