Agency Nurses vs Staff Nurses

August 27, 2022
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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As an in-demand profession that truly offers the ability to help people and change lives for the better, nursing can be a deeply rewarding and satisfying career. There are also so many places where nurses can work and it is more than possible to find a niche or specialty that meets your personality and goals. Along with the location of care and subspecialty, nurses can also choose the type of employment arrangement they have.

Two of the most common types of nurses are staff nurses, who work for a hospital or other facility, and agency nurses, who work for a dedicated nursing agency. While both types of nursing involve helping people and performing many of the exact same functions, there are key differences. Understanding these differences and how they can impact your work-life balance and long-term career path can be a key step on your journey as a nurse.

What is an agency nurse?

Simply put, an agency nurse is any nurse that works for a nursing agency. This can include both registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Nursing agencies also often hire and assign certified nursing assistants (CNAs) as well.

A nursing agency works with a broad range of facilities and care sites to provide nursing services on a temporary or long-term basis. Some nursing agencies are generalized, helping facilities ranging from hospitals to surgery centers to nursing homes, and others are more specialized. For example, a nursing agency can focus on delivering home health services to patients and families in need of care in the home.

The Pros and Cons of Agency Nursing

For many nurses, working for an agency provides just the right mix of structure and independence while enabling them to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives. But like any job, there are trade-offs between the pros and cons.

Pros of Agency Nursing

The pros of agency nurse life include the following:

  • Flexibility: Agency nurses can have the ability to build schedules that fit their lives.
  • Independence: Agency nurses are often in situations where they need to make independent decisions and be resourceful, so experience is usually a plus.
  • Variety: If you like to mix it up and meet new people, agency nursing can be a good fit. Agency nurses are often assigned to different locations or facilities on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis.
  • Patient Focus: In many situations, agency nurses come in to strictly provide patient care. This is especially true of home health, where nurses can give all their attention to one patient at a time.

Cons of Agency Nursing

Some of the potential downsides of agency nursing are:

  • Unpredictability: People who need the stability of showing up to the same place, with the same people, and working the same or similar schedule may not find agency nursing to be a good fit.
  • Lack of Camaraderie: While agency nursing helps people avoid some of the politics and infighting that can come with being on staff, there can also be less camaraderie and long-term relationship building.
  • Reduced Stability and Benefits: Many agencies hire nurses on a contract or temporary basis, leaving nurses without essentials like medical benefits, 401k, paid time off (PTO), and other benefits.

What is a staff nurse?

Staff nurses, also sometimes called bedside nurses or hospital nurses, are nurses who are on the permanent staff of a health care facility. Although commonly associated with hospitals, staff nurses can also work at rehab centers, psychiatric facilities, and nursing homes, among other locations. As employees of the facility, nurses will be part of an organizational structure and report to a supervisor such as a director of nursing, nurse practitioner, or physician, depending on the situation.

The Pros and Cons of Being a Staff Nurse

Pros of Being a Staff Nurse

In many ways, the pros and cons of being a staff nurse are the opposite of agency nursing. For example, the pros include:

  • Predictability: Being a staff nurse can offer the best chance at a stable commute and set schedule, depending on the specific employer.
  • Camaraderie: If you like to build longer-term relationships with your coworkers, being a staff nurse can offer this opportunity.
  • Gaining Experience: Many new nurses start out with an entry-level staff position at a hospital, nursing home, or other facility. It’s a great way to learn the basics of patient care or start to learn about a specialty.
  • Competitive Benefits: Many employers of staff nurses offer attractive health plans, PTO, and retirement benefits, as well as growth and development, and dedicated training.

Cons of Being a Staff Nurse

Cons to be aware of include:

  • Stress: Hospitals and similar facilities are often understaffed and overloaded with patients. Staff nurses are likely to bear much of the brunt of this and there can be potential for burnout.
  • Monotony: On the flipside of the stability that staff nursing can offer, there can be a chance of starting to feel like you’re stuck in a rut working at the same place with the same people every day.
  • Potential for Less Patient Interaction: Staff nurses are often asked to take on administrative tasks, from scheduling to inventory, which can mean less time giving direct patient care.

Finding the right path for you often means balancing these pros and cons carefully and deciding which are the most important to you. The individual agency or facility you work for can have a major impact on your job satisfaction or work-life balance as well. Whether you prefer working as an agency nurse or staff nurse, finding a people-focused organization that provides competitive pay, benefits, and growth opportunities is critical.

For Home Health Nurses, The Best of Both Worlds

Home health is a highly rewarding and growing area of health care that many nurses are entering and loving. Care Options for Kids is a home health agency that hires nurses as full or part time employees, offering the pay, benefits, and stability of staff nursing with the flexibility of agency nursing. This includes:

  • Medical, dental, and vision coverage
  • PTO
  • 401K retirement account
  • Training opportunities
  • Continuing education credits
  • Weekly pay
  • Flexible scheduling

If you want the best of agency and staff nursing, a home health agency like Care Options for Kids can help you improve your work-life balance and achieve your long-term career goals.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why the team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offer one-on-one support in the comfort of home. We are always looking for loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision.

Applying for a position with Care Options for Kids is quick and simple. Our online application process eliminates the need to come into a local office until you are ready to meet with our Director of Nursing. Your application, resumé, license, and CPR card are all uploaded online. We make it as easy as possible to join our team. Call today at (888) 592-5855.