One of the perks of being an agency nurse is that you are able to mould your career to suit your lifestyle. Simply choose an agency, organise your shifts and carry out the roles you love at a time that suits you best. But in the pursuit of your career goals, how many nursing agencies should you join?
First of all, let’s start by establishing that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. As an agency nurse, you are free to join as many agencies as you desire. However, as the old saying goes, sometimes less really can be more.
Whilst joining just one nursing agency might seem like putting all of your eggs in one basket, registering and remaining with a single nursing agency throughout your time as an agency nurse does have its benefits. So what are the benefits of sticking with one nursing agency?
Building stronger relationships with an agency
Many nursing agencies (including Medacs Healthcare) offer a personal service whereby each nurse is provided with their very own recruitment consultant. Working closely with your consultant allows you to forge a long-lasting relationship that enables them to better understand your individual needs to intuitively match you with the right types of roles.
Whilst it is possible to build this kind of relationship when working with multiple nursing agencies, it can be tricky, especially if you need to devote a lot of time to building the initial relationship.
Fazal Wahid, a newly qualified advanced nurse practitioner and valued member of the Medacs Healthcare family, firmly agrees with this way of thinking. “In my personal opinion, if you have one agency you [create] real relationships and get more shifts than if you are with multiple agencies.”
Of course, it isn’t just your recruitment officer who you stand to build a strong relationship with, as Fazal explains, “The team who look after my compliance will send me emails when areas of my training are set to expire. My occupational health team also send me notifications well in time, even if [my recruitment officer] Sharon is giving me the shifts.”
By establishing a stronger relationship with your recruitment officer, you may also forge tighter bonds with the clients you work for. This is especially important if your agency has exclusive contracts with clients that enables its nurses to receive first sight of shifts for a hospital that you favour.
You may get more of the shifts you want
For some agency nurses, joining more agencies might mean more shifts (although this is not a guarantee). However, these might not necessarily be the shifts that are right for you.
The multiple agency route could also see you inundated with calls. While the thought of a multitude of agencies offering you work might seem appealing at first, it may become an unwelcome distraction. Operating through a single agency will result in less frequent calls offering you the type of shifts you desire.
Another disadvantage of working through multiple nursing agencies is the danger of ‘CV fatigue’. An issue that affects specialists in particular, this is when your complete working history is hitting the desks of matrons for roles that you might not favour. As a result, you could be overlooked when your preferred shifts come around.
A further consideration is flexibility, a major positive when it comes to agency nursing. This might involve working in as many different healthcare settings as possible, honing your skills along the way. Or it could mean establishing yourself as a client’s ‘go-to’ agency nurse, someone who is trusted and well-respected.
Working with a solitary nursing agency could help on both fronts. As your relationship you’re your recruitment consultant grows, they are able to learn more about the type of shifts you like and the locations you prefer. This is an excellent way to control your career and achieve job satisfaction.
One of the less desirable parts of working with a nursing agency is often the rigorous registration and compliance process. While things like reference checks, DBS checks and mandatory training are essential, not least because they protect your NMC Pin, the client and of course, patients; the paperwork can sometimes feel a bit much. So on the bright side, once this paperwork is submitted, you can return to focusing on the job you love.
However, imagine the amount of paperwork you would have to complete if you joined multiple agencies? Completing form after form and ticking endless boxes can really eat into your time outside of work.
“The process of joining another agency is too lengthy when it comes to compliance,” comments Fazal, who admits to having looked into joining other nursing agencies. “I just said to myself ‘why do I need to have another agency?’”
More complicated for limited company nurses
Operating through just one recruitment agency has benefits for agency nurses who work via their own limited companies. Not only is it easier to keep track of your raised invoices for the work you have carried out, it also significantly reduces the amount of paperwork you have to have processed in order to receive your money. This includes items such as VAT certificates and company registration certificate, and not forgetting information that requires updating on a regular basis like bank details.
There’s an advantage when it comes to building relationships, too. Working through one recruitment agency allows you to build long lasting relationships with the staff who work for the nursing agency’s finance department. Failure to forge these stronger relationships can be detrimental if, at any time, there are any issues with your payments.
Ultimately, it’s your call
As an agency nurse, the number of nursing agencies you join is a call only you can make. Whether that’s one, two or even more, the answer is far from black and white and very much a personal decision.
However, Fazal, who loudly sounds the drum for nurses joining a single agency, does have a final message for agency nurses who believe they will be short of shifts if they join just one agency: “I think agency nurses have a feeling of insecurity that they will be short of shifts. If you are with more agencies the chances are one will give you one shift and the other will give you the other shift, but in my experience, if you stick with one you don’t need to worry.”
Find out more
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of working as an agency nurse with Medacs Healthcare, contact one of our dedicated Nursing Teams.
If you are seeking opportunities in England and Wales call 0800 442 207 during office hours. Or for opportunities in Scotland, call 0141 225 5451 during office hours.