There are many advantages to working as an agency nurse. From being able to take control of when and where you work to getting paid more quickly, the working life of an agency nurse is an enviable one. However, what if you want to progress your career? Can starting work as an agency nurse really help?
Fazal Wahid, a valued member of the Medacs Healthcare family, is a shining example of how agency nursing really can help progress your career. Now, as a nurse practitioner - a role that has grown in popularity in recent times - Fazal believes that agency work truly benefitted his nurse career progression enormously as he made the step up from his previous role.
So what is it about agency work that is so beneficial for nurses like Fazal who are looking to climb the career ladder and land their dream role?
Agency nursing allows you the flexibility to study
In order to progress your nursing career, you need to increase your knowledge of healthcare. Whether that’s expanding areas of knowhow you already possess or learning new skills from scratch, it’s safe to say that knowledge really is power as far as nursing is concerned.
Unfortunately, in today’s society, finding the time to commit to your studies and hold down a full-time job can be exceedingly difficult, especially if you have a range of other commitments to juggle.
Luckily, working as an agency nurse can help. The role grants you the flexibility you need to focus on your education and mould your shifts to suit your lifestyle. What’s more, the enhanced pay rates that often accompany agency work can help to fund your academic growth.
It was this flexibility that helped Fazal train for the role of his dreams: “If I was working in the NHS, I would not get the opportunity to do some of the courses necessary to further my career. With the help of the agency, I had money for my tuition fees and I was flexible. I didn’t need to ask for days off to attend university.”
Experience different working environments
As well as developing your academic skillset, it’s also important to gain first-hand experience in different hospitals. This allows you to witness a variety of healthcare professionals carrying out their day-to-day duties and learn from their practices.
Granted there are advantages to working in familiar surroundings where everyone knows your name. However, it is the exposure to different routines and procedures that help nurses develop their own personal techniques. Each experience can also help you flourish as an individual, too.
As an agency A&E nurse, Fazal understands how the reality of working in a variety of different locations can be challenging at first, but feels that nurses are able to easily adapt to their new surroundings. He also believes that the experience of agency work ultimately improved his practise as a result. “I for one did not find it difficult at all,” he explains. “You go and you do your job.”
Agency work can help identify your strengths and weaknesses
Performing your duties in different settings and observing other nurses on a regular basis can really help you discover your own strengths and weaknesses. Once you become aware of these, you can find ways to utilise your positives and improve upon your negatives.
This is one aspect of agency nursing that really helped Fazal in his pursuit of the advanced nurse practitioner role: “Part of the criteria [for becoming an advanced nurse practitioner] was to give a presentation to your colleagues about yourself. When I gave that presentation, it was all about what you are, what you’ve helped with so far, where you are now and where you want to go. It was designed to analyse your strengths, your weaknesses, opportunities and the barriers you face.”
Thanks to his time as an agency nurse, Fazal was able to analyse the strengths and weaknesses in his own practice. Ultimately, this was a huge advantage: “When I analysed myself, I found that there was nothing stopping me from becoming a clinician, so I tried my best. I spoke to the right people and found that someone could mentor me.”
Form professional relationships
The ability to work in different locations as an agency nurse, honing your skills as you learn from a wide variety of healthcare professionals, has another key advantage. It allows you the chance to form professional relationships with other nurses, as well as doctors and other healthcare professionals. This can prove beneficial when it comes to advancing your career.
When progressing your career, the old adage of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is often cited as being a huge factor in whether or not you secure your dream role. However, for nurse career progression, it’s more a case of ‘it’s what you know AND it’s who you know’. A far less catchy saying, but one that rings true for those looking to climb the nursing ladder.
Fazal is a keen advocator of forming these professional relationships in healthcare settings: “Being an agency [nurse] working in many different hospitals has given me the opportunity to meet doctors and consultants.”
He also feels that these bonds allowed him to progress his own nursing career: “I’ve grown good relationships with [doctors and consultants] and they’ve offered me placements which were required for my clinical placement.”
“I was offered a placement by a GP in her own practice.” He continues. “After looking into my work, she became my mentor. You need to have practice placements and a designated mentor. Because of the agency, I got access to the hospital where I met the doctor who offered me the opportunity to learn as a student.”
Could agency nursing help progress your career?
In achieving his aim of reaching the advanced nurse practitioner role, Fazal proved that agency work really can help nurse career progression. “In my situation, it has helped my career,” he smiles.
“I’ve been able to realise my dream of becoming a clinician. To embark on a role which I have really wanted to do ever since I was 16, maybe 18 years old. When I got it at the age of 40, it really was amazing. I’m now trying to read more and become a role model clinician.”
Find out more
If you are keen to learn more about how agency work can help benefit your career, contact one of our dedicated Nursing teams today. To discover more about agency work in England and Wales, please contact us via email or call 0800 442 207 during office hours. Alternatively, to find out more about agency work in Scotland, please contact us via email or call 0141 225 5451 during office hours.
Looking for further reading on the subject of agency nursing? Check out our related blog posts:
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Nurse Career Progression: How Agency Nursing Supported My Career Development to ANP
Agency Nursing as a Career: An Interview with an Advanced Nurse Practitioner