Whether you’re new to agency nursing or you’ve got years of experience under your belt, there’s one question that is bound to be at the forefront of your mind: “Which is the best nursing agency to work for?”
There are many reasons to join a nursing agency. A greater choice of shifts, the ability to take control of where to work and when, the opportunity to hone your skills in a variety of healthcare settings and clinical and revalidation support, not to mention higher pay rates; every nurse has their own personal reasons behind wanting to pursue agency life. So which is the best nursing agency to work for?
Well, as you might have guessed, it depends on numerous factors such as what your key motivations are, where you live, how far you're willing to travel for agency shifts, etc. With all that in mind, here’s what to look out for in a nursing agency that is the best fit for you.
What support does the agency offer?
Working through a nursing agency can be fantastic when the right level of support is available. Many nursing agencies will offer access to a network of nursing advisors whose extensive knowledge can be utilised throughout your time with the organisation. Nursing advisers are also a fantastic source of career advice, revalidation support and appraisals.
It’s important that mandatory support training is included, too. This assistance from an agency will help you remain compliant and avoid the need to source your own training schemes.
It’s also important that this help is available at a time that suits you. If you’re eager to break free from the shackles of typical nursing work hours, it’s vital that the agency you’re with offers round-the-clock support. If you’re working a night shift and require advice in the early hours of the morning, a recorded message is going to be of little comfort.
Do the shifts being offered suit your lifestyle?
For some nurses, agency work offers the opportunity to work in a variety of different locations and learn new skills in a multitude of settings
However, if you’re a nurse who needs to remain close to home, long-distance roles just aren’t practical. An agency that offers you the world is all well and good, but if they don’t offer roles that suit your lifestyle in the settings and locations that you want to work in, then you’ve reached a state of deadlock.
For nurses who often favour swapping home comforts for a taste of nursing in a different country, then your ideal agency should offer international opportunities.
The best nursing agency for you is one that offers shifts to meet your unique requirements both now and in the future. Also, ensure that your chosen agency can deliver consistency before signing up.
Can the agency keep pace in the digital world?
It cannot have escaped your notice that we now live in a world dominated by all things digital, (you reading this on your desktop or mobile device only further illustrates this point). Research indicates that the majority of nurses spend a lot of their free time on their phones using various apps.
With this in mind, and if you are a nurse who relies heavily on your phone, it is vital that you choose a nursing agency that can keep pace in an ever-changing era and communicate through a method that suits you and your lifestyle.
Take how you register with an agency, for example. If you’re searching for a new agency to join online only to find you have to apply to register with them by post or in person; it can be a bit off-putting. The ability to submit your details in a form or even a chat bot, and then complete the full registration process online, there and then if you’ve got the time, is pretty much a given in many other industries these days.
Pay is another example. Once you’ve completed a shift, you want to be paid for your work as soon as possible, right? You certainly don’t want to be kept waiting days before the money hits your account, especially if you’ve got bills that need to be paid. In order to achieve this quick turnaround, it’s best to digitally submit your timesheet. What you need is an agency that can offer a lightning-quick digital service that’ll mean you’re not left waiting for your money.
This digital approach even extends to how you search for your nursing jobs. Joining an agency with an efficient website with up-to-date shift opportunities or an app is a great way to find the roles you want to work quickly and easily.
Can the agency offer a personal touch?
While an agency that can keep pace in the digital world does have its advantages, it’s vital that that personal touch isn’t lost. The best nursing agency should combine the convenience of technology with dedicated teams of people who can offer help and support when it’s really needed. This might include providing you with your own consultant who can work with you closely to help form relationships with trusts and shape your career as an agency nurse.
What are the pay rates like?
Whilst some agency nurses might prefer the luxury of planning their shifts in advance, others may choose to pick up shifts just hours in advance in favour of higher pay rates. These shifts are usually offered by non-framework agencies, and while these organisations are sometimes the best-paid nursing agencies, they do rely on you being free at the drop of a hat and/or to travel long distances.
Of course, inflated pay rates aren’t for everyone. Some nurses prefer knowing where and when they will be working in advance. In this case, framework agencies are a better option. Framework agencies, although not always the best-paid nursing agencies, often give nurses first choice when it comes to picking the shifts they want to work and many run lucrative referral schemes. These agencies are also able to offer greater security when it comes to continuity of shifts due to long term contracts being in place.
While larger framework agencies who deal with a high volume of shifts from multiple clients can slightly reduce pay rates, working with them does allow for perks like block bookings and a choice of payment options when it comes to working for NHS trusts.
Another important point to consider when it comes to pay is your rights regarding holiday pay and whether these will be honoured by an agency.
Are there any rewards?
Feeling valued for the work you carry out is fantastic. The best nursing agency should recognise this and treat you as a valued member of their team. You need to feel as though you are in a partnership with your nursing agency, where there is a give and take mentality when it comes to work.
While financial incentives are great, it doesn’t always have to be about money. Other rewards, such as access to events, exclusive training or even personal messages on your birthday show that the nursing agency you’re working with care about you as a person and don’t simply see you as a name on a database.
So which is the best nursing agency to work for?
Ultimately, determining which the best nursing agency to work for is comes down to personal preference. Just as every nurse has their reasons for choosing agency work, it’s only logical that the qualities they seek in a nursing agency will differ too.
So whether you’re seeking the best-paid nursing agency, a nursing agency that offers excellent support or the best nursing agency to suit your lifestyle, answering the question “which the best nursing agency to work for” is very tricky.
Find out more
If you would like to learn more about agency nursing through Medacs Healthcare, please contact one of our dedicated Nursing teams. For agency nursing in England and Wales, contact us via the contact form or call 0800 442 207 during office hours. For information on agency nursing in Scotland,complete the contact form or call 0141 225 5451 during office hours.