How Per Diem Nurses Can Earn More Money for Vacations
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How Per Diem Nurses Can Earn More Money for Vacations

July 8, 2024

Per diem nurses are vital to the healthcare system. They are ready to take on shifts that need last-minute coverage. As a per diem nurse, you may be called on to fill in for someone who is sick, or you could be pre-scheduled to fill in for staff who are taking maternity leave or vacations. You are, essentially, always on call. 

Although being a per diem nurse is highly rewarding, it can also be a stressful career that requires you to take time off to regroup. To fund that time off and take vacations that maintain your mental health and prevent burnout, you must carefully plan your workload and your time. 

You can maximize your earnings as a per diem nurse by being strategic with the nursing jobs you 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.

Learn more about some of the best strategies to help you get to your vacation fund goal. 

Be prepared to work holidays and overtime

As a per diem nurse, you need to get used to working shifts that others may not want. That includes holidays, weekends, and evenings. These options usually come with better pay, including double-time and overtime. 

By taking on these shifts, you could boost your salary significantly in a short amount of time. Keep your mental health in mind, though, and avoid working continuously since it could lead to burnout. Instead, consider taking on overtime every other week or one week a month. 

A young woman travels through a city on foot wearing a backpack.

Consider traveling

Per diem nurses are needed throughout the country. Suppose you have nursing licenses in different states or are willing to invest in earning these licenses. In that case, you can make even better money, as healthcare facility administrators often pay more for travel per diem nursing professionals

Traveling per diem nurses can choose the states in which they work. This means that you can opt for regions that offer better pay. Per diem nurses in Florida, for example, tend to only make about $28.17 an hour, which adds up to $58,585 per year, while per diem nurses in Wisconsin make $45.81 an hour and $95,276 a year. 

By being strategic about the states in which you work, you can make a significantly higher salary. This is especially true if you avoid warmer states during the winter, as these states are popular among travel nurses. Working in colder states in the winter can be a sacrifice, but it usually means better pay. 

Be flexible

Usually, employers who need staff at the last minute are willing to pay higher rates. If you’re ready to be flexible in your scheduling and can set aside your personal life to take on those emergency shifts, then you can easily start earning more. 

Advance your education

Getting certified and specializing in a field of nursing can be an excellent way to earn more. This is not a fast way to raise money for a vacation, and it could require you to invest time and money. However, it can also help you get better postings and consistently earn more.

Specializing can also make you a better overall nurse, boosting your performance in all of the jobs you take. That makes it more likely that facilities will remember you and want to work with you again. 

Accept per diem roles with higher pay and bonuses

Try to find roles that offer higher pay and take on as many shifts as possible while you’re there. While this requires a bit of a sacrifice, it can be worth it—especially if you’re getting a higher pay rate because you’re filling in at the last minute. You can push yourself to complete a few shifts and earn enough to go on that vacation. 

Take time to look at the average hourly wages you can expect at the various facilities you’re considering. Do wages change depending on the time of the year or any other factors? If they do, try to make yourself available when pay is at its highest and then take on a good number of shifts. 

Be open to crisis assignments

When there’s a crisis, like a flu outbreak, you want to be ready to take on shifts. Many employers will offer better wages and even bonuses to get staff to fill in. To ensure that you’re included in the people they reach out to, you need to make a good impression from the first day. 

Don’t just focus on hospitals, either; be open to working at clinics, private doctors’ offices, and any other facility that matches your training and experience. 

A female nurse sits on an outdoor bench and massages her forehead.

Avoid overdoing it

The more you work, the faster you can earn the money you need for your vacation — but working too much can be counterproductive. Working without a break can quickly lead to burnout, which impacts the quality of the care you offer. This could affect the way that employers view you and might prevent you from getting the best positions in the future. 

Burnout can also make you more likely to get sick because high levels of stress over a long period impact your immune system. That can mean needing to take time off to recuperate, which will cut into the money you’re setting aside for a vacation. 

You can avoid burnout and still maintain a rigorous work schedule by making time to rest. Practice self-care, as well, by eating correctly and getting enough sleep. It’s also vital that you integrate some mindfulness exercises into your day to reduce anxiety and better manage daily stress. 

By keeping your work and home life in better balance and taking time off when you need a break, you can continue working and offering the quality care patients deserve. 

Work with a per diem staffing agency

Whether you want to travel or work near home, working with a nursing staffing agency gives you many 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 needed.

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 and your schedule full, 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 with Prolink

If you want to earn more from your next nursing assignment, Prolink can help you find the high-paying nursing job that’s right for you. Whether you’d like to try travel nursing or are searching for local per diem opportunities, we can help. 

We offer a number of services to help you get started, from polishing your resume to securing licenses in the states in which you’d like to work. Our team will walk you through finding exciting and lucrative new employment opportunities so that you can start saving up for that next vacation.

Connect with a Prolink recruiter today or click below to search our travel nursing jobs.

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