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SEP 09/2013

Questions for Newly-Qualified Nurses Considering Agency Work

Just graduated? About to start your nursing career?

Then you'll benefit from getting as much experience in as many different contexts as you can. Working in different environments exposes you to a variety of approaches and practice in other trusts. 

Early in your career you'll need to take on healthcare support worker shifts. These can provide invaluable experience as well as introducing you to new areas of practice and broadening your experience. Not only that, agency shift work can provide a very useful source of cash to help you through your studies or pay off any outstanding loans. 

In addition, any newly qualified nurse who has gained extra experience in another hospital will always have the edge in a competitive interview. It shows initiative, as well as a keenness to learn and flexibility too; all attractive characteristics to any potential employer. You can choose to work through one bank or employer, but remember that may limit your experience. 

Note: No responsible nursing agency should be offering you qualified temporary nursing shifts until you have completed at least 6 months in an acute, primary care or community setting. Remember it is your PIN number and you have worked hard to get it, look after it and don’t put yourself at risk before you have even started.

When choosing a specialist nursing agency to work through, you need to consider the following:

  1. Does the agency provide 24 hour a day support? After all you may want to work a 24 hour shift rotation and you should expect professional support throughout your entire shift pattern, whatever the time of day or night.
  2. Will they let you speak to one of their nurse advisors. Will they offer you independent career advice or appraisals?
  3. Ask about the package. Where is the work they can offer you? How much you can expect to be paid? How often? Will you be paid holiday pay and will there be any deductions? Ask - and make sure you get clear answers. 
  4. Ask about any costs. It is usual for some costs to be passed onto the candidate but these can vary greatly so make sure you ask about all charges up front

Once you decide to do some temporary agency shifts, check out the range of nursing roles that are available to you.

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