As a per diem nurse, also referred to as a per-day or on-call nurse, you get to choose where you want to work, and when, and you generally get paid more than your average full-time nurse as a result. This helps when you’re trying to make extra money to save up for that once-in-a-lifetime vacation. You can also use the extra money you earn to pay off student loans, pay off or buy a car, and advance your career education in nursing school.
You can maximize your earnings as a per diem nurse by being strategic with the nursing jobs you choose to accept. Sure, you may not be able to take all the shifts you want. But having a plan can help you make as much as possible for those times when you do get passed over for a shift or floated to a unit in need.
This means you will need to be a go-getter if you hope to take on as many shifts as possible. As you may well know, the per diem nursing lifestyle can come with a ton of downtime in some cases. While there is a nationwide nursing shortage, there may be some weeks when few nurses are needed. When that happens, per diems are the first to get the scheduling shaft. Be proactive by looking for key positions at as many facilities and in as many states as you can. With enough homework and tenacity, you could fill your schedule all year long, and clean up financially as a result.
Here are several ways you can make as much as possible to fund your upcoming vacation as a per diem nurse.
Accept Per Diem Roles with Higher Pay and Bonuses
Medical facilities use competitive hourly rates and attractive bonuses to ensure staff-to-patient ratios are being met, sometimes at the last minute. Use this to your advantage by taking as many shifts offered to you as possible. You want to be seen as the nurse who will take any shift when offered. That kind of reputation is sure to get you noticed by facility administrators and will help you earn the kind of income you want.
Work Overtime and Holiday Shifts
When you become a per diem nurse, you are used to taking shifts few others prefer, such as those that fall on weekends and holidays. These shifts often come with overtime, double-time, and increased base rate pay. Make these your bread and butter, even if it means skipping out on outings with your friends.
If you work overtime every week, for example, you could theoretically double your salary. This is ideal for someone with few responsibilities or commitments outside of work. Even if you do have obligations, working an overtime or double time shift every other week can still raise your salary.
Fill Staffing Shortages in the Highest Paying States
Many per diem nurses like working close to home because they can work as they please without engaging in too much travel. However, if you are open to traveling, you stand to earn a hefty salary, as health care facility administrators often pay more for travel per diem nursing professionals.
If you don’t mind leaving home for a while, consider taking per diem shifts in states that pay the highest salaries. The average nursing salary in the United States is between $77,750 and $82,750. In California, the highest paying state for nurses, the average salary is $124,000.
Other high-paying states include Hawaii (average salary $106,530), Oregon ($98,630), the District of Columbia ($98,540), and Alaska (97,540). You can find the complete list here.
While everyone else is traveling to the warmer areas for the winter, consider going north. Sure, the climate may be colder, but the salary boost may make the strategic move worth the extra effort.
You don’t just earn more when you travel, but you also get quite a few perks as a travel per diem nurse.
For example, traveling as a per diem nurse lets you enjoy tax breaks. Tax deductions you become privy to include the cost of your uniforms, malpractice insurance, phone and internet expenses, professional licensing costs, and expenses related to continuing education (including textbooks).
Imagine saving at tax time and pocketing more of the money you earn by taking on more travel assignments. This is how per diem nurses earn the kind of money they want while also seeing more of the country.
If you are someone who likes new environments and gets bored easily, traveling to higher-paying states may scratch your itch to explore and help you earn more money as a nurse at the same time.
Find Your Own Housing
If you are open to traveling as a per diem nurse, you will sometimes be offered tax-free income and housing stipends. It is recommended that you secure your own housing if given the option. Doing so lets you choose how much you want to spend, allowing you to potentially pocket more money.
Be Open to Crisis Assignments
One way to boost your earnings is to communicate with administrators at nearby medical facilities. Don’t just focus on hospitals, but also talk to the head honchos at labs, private doctor offices, and others that fit your experience and training. Make sure these facilities keep you on their shortlist of nurses to call when they have staffing shortages or crises, such as natural disasters or even labor strikes.
The more urgent the need for nurses during a crisis, the more you stand to make in salary and bonuses.
Get Certified or Advance Your Education
One of the best ways to increase your per diem nursing income is to get certified and advance your education. These are not immediate fixes and will take some time and hard work on your part, but the investment should pay off nicely.
Securing a specialty certification in a specific nursing area can strengthen your skills, boost your resume, and elevate your paycheck. You will also become a more empowered and confident nurse while earning the respect of your colleagues and supervisors.
Higher education can also bolster your earnings as a per diem nurse. Getting a master’s degree, for example, will open opportunities to secure the top-paid nursing specialty jobs. You might qualify as a nurse-midwife, a nurse anesthetist, or a nurse educator. The salaries for these roles range from $84,060 to $189,190.
Make Sure You Avoid Burnout While Earning More
The above tips should help you fill up your schedule and your piggy bank as you work toward saving for your upcoming vacation. There are plenty of positions open for per diem nurses with more becoming available all the time. With retirement rife among nurses, increased demand for nursing professionals means more health care administrators are looking to put professionals like you on their hiring radar.
As long as you are willing to stay flexible and you continually seek out new positions, you should be able to out-earn other nurses working standard shifts by a considerable degree. In the process, you will meet all kinds of new people, and learn new skills that make you even more valuable to potential employers.
However, per diem nurses run the risk of burnout like any other nurse. This is especially true if you decide to per diem while also maintaining a full-time job.
There are a few strategies to follow to keep you from burning out as you work and save for your approaching vacation.
Value Your Recovery Time
Few people can work every weekend without burning out, especially if you plan to work overtime during those shifts. Take time to rest and recover during your time off and be mindful of yourself becoming moody, sore, and downright exhausted because you’ve been working too hard.
Practice Self Care
On your days off, take time to care for yourself. A spa day here and there and daily meditation sessions are excellent ways to get more in tune with yourself and the things your body needs to perform at its best.
Get Regular Exercise
Get used to working out daily or at least a few days per week. The more you get used to moving and stretching your body, the better your body will perform when under pressure. You’ll also keep yourself healthy and live a potentially longer life. Besides, being healthy is one of the best ways to promote health and wellness to the patients you treat, which is one of the key functions of being a nurse.
Don’t Always Take on the Most Challenging Roles
Per diem nursing jobs tend to pay the most when no one else wants them. That usually translates to grueling shifts that can be tough on the mind and body. To balance things out, try to find shifts with less intense workloads, such as those involving office work, meal deliveries, and vaccine administration, to give some examples.
Work with a Per Diem Staffing Agency
Whether you want to travel or work near home, working with a nursing staffing agency gives you a host of benefits you wouldn’t get on your own. Examples include competitive salaries, bonus pay opportunities, access to certification classes, and holiday pay. You also get a dedicated recruiter with around-the-clock access whenever you have the need.
It’s the access to an experienced nursing job recruiter that makes the experience of working with an agency all the more worth it. With the right agency, you can get exclusive access to the top-paying job assignments with the highest salaries and most attractive bonuses. When a crisis occurs, strike, or staffing shortage at a medical facility at home or out-of-state, you can know about it and get on the schedule as needed. This lets you keep your earnings high, your schedule filled up, with a recruiter doing all the job hunting on your behalf.
Some agencies even have referral bonuses, which means you’ll earn even more money for your vacation by signing up your friends with nursing qualifications.
Earn More as a Per Diem Nurse by Applying with Prolink
One staffing agency you should consider as a per diem nurse is Prolink. Prolink is one of the top nursing staffing agencies in the country. We offer top jobs from coast to coast and experienced recruiters who get to know you and your career goals. We can help you secure licensing in the state of your choice and certification when a nursing specialty catches your eye. We also give you first-in-line resume assistance when a top job becomes available in your specialty and at the facility location of your choice.
Applying with Prolink is easy. Get started now by searching through our exclusive list of top nursing jobs.