Just graduated? About to start your nursing career?
Then you may be eager to gain experience and develop your skills in a specific setting or specialist area of nursing.
Working in an environment that suits your desired skill set is an ideal way to improve your practice. While operating in a range of settings can also help introduce you to a whole host of different approaches that will allow your nursing career to flourish.
Beginning life as a newly qualified nurse
Early in your career, you should consider taking on healthcare assistant (HCA) shifts. This can provide invaluable experience and introduce you to new areas of practice.
Newly qualified nurses who are able to boast pre-qualification experience in a working environment are likely to have a significant edge in a competitive interview. This additional work shows initiative, as well as a keenness to learn. It also demonstrates flexibility too. Each of these characteristics will make you a far more attractive candidate.
That’s not all. Agency shift work can provide a very useful source of income to help you through your studies or pay off any outstanding loans.
Remember, you can choose to work through one bank or employer, but this may limit your experience. In order to gain a more well-rounded skill set, try working for a wide range of employers.
Looking after your PIN
It’s worth noting that a responsible nursing agency should not offer you qualified temporary nursing shifts until you have completed at least six months in an appropriate setting, such as acute, primary care or community nursing.
Remember, it is your PIN and you have worked hard to gain it. Look after it and don’t put yourself at risk of losing it before you have even started your nursing career.
Questions every newly qualified nurse should consider
When choosing a specialist nursing agency to work through, you should consider asking the following questions:
1. Does the agency provide 24-hour support?
One of the beauties of agency nursing is that there are shifts to suit any schedule. This includes evening and night shifts. If you are eager to operate outside of the traditional working hours of nine to five, you’ll need to make sure that your nursing agency is able to offer round-the-clock support. You should look for professional support throughout your entire shift pattern, whatever the time, day or night.
2. Will the agency let you speak to one of their nurse advisors?
Nursing advisors are a fantastic resource for any newly qualified nurse. Selecting the right agency can grant you access to a network of nursing advisors who can provide support and education throughout your time as an agency nurse. Nursing advisors are also a great source of independent career advice and appraisals.
3. What are the benefits of joining an agency?
From favourable pay rates to plenty of NHS jobs, every nursing agency markets itself on being able to boast something different. However, it’s advisable to choose an agency that offers something that suits your needs. Ask yourself:
Also, remember to ask about any costs, which vary from agency to agency. If you cannot find the answers for yourself, contact the agency and make sure you get clear answers.
4. Are you able to take control of your own career?
As a newly qualified nurse, it’s important that you’re able to control your own career. The same applies to agency nursing.
Agency nursing offers plenty of advantages, including the flexibility to work around other commitments in your life and receive your pay at a time that suits you. Ensure that your nursing agency understands your specific needs.
Find out more
If you are interested in learning more about the range of nursing roles that are available to you or you would like to find out more about joining a nursing agency in England or Wales, contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 442 207 during office hours. For information on agency nursing in Scotland, please email: email@example.com or call 0141 225 5451 during office hours.
Read more in the agency nursing series:
*This post was originally published on 09/09/2013 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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