“As a med-surg nurse who’s been working per diem for the past three years, I can confidently say it’s been one of the best career decisions I’ve made.” Leah Coaxum shares some practical tips to help you improve your work-life balance in nursing and start your journey as a per diem nurse.

When Leah first considered transitioning to per diem nursing, it was a path few had taken. Many doubted its viability, questioning how she’d make a living. Two years later, Leah is thriving as a per diem nurse. In this blog, we’ll go over her process for becoming a per diem nurse, so you can have a smoother transition.

1. Define Your Goals

Before diving in, it’s crucial to understand what you want to achieve as a per diem nurse. For Leah, the motivation was clear: She just welcomed a baby girl into her life, and she was missing key moments of her early years due to her rigid work schedule. Despite promises of flexibility from her employer, she often worked on days she had specifically requested off. Her goals were simple:

  • Create more family memories
  • Prioritize her loved onces
  • Gain control over her schedule
  • Improve her work-life balance in nursing

2. Set Yourself Up for Success

Transitioning to per diem nursing is unconventional, and you need to prepare accordingly. Here are some key considerations:

  • Benefits: As a per diem nurse, you’re typically not eligible for employer benefits. Consider alternatives like accessing benefits through a spouse’s full-time job or purchasing private insurance.
  • Fluctuating Income: Your payouts may vary from week to week. You might work seven days one week and none the next, which means no payout for that period.
  • Emergency Savings: Set up an emergency fund. This will provide a financial cushion during periods when you choose not to work or when shifts are harder to book.
  • Gain Experience: Focus on building solid experience in your chosen specialty before transitioning to per diem. This is crucial because, as a per diem nurse, you’re there to help the floor, not vice versa. Aim for at least one year of experience. Medely’s minimum is eight months to use our platform.
  • Be Independent: You should be able to manage a set of patients without constant assistance. Know your resources.
  • Update Your Resume: Highlight your skills and experiences in your specialty to make it easier to secure per diem shifts.
  • Stay Current: Keep your annual physical up to date and maintain documentation of all your vaccinations, especially COVID-19 and TDAP. This will streamline the process of picking up shifts.

3. Leverage Technology

Consider using platforms like Medely, which connects nurses and health professionals with per diem shifts in their area. These apps allow you to choose the shifts you want and pass on those you don’t, giving you ultimate control over your schedule and your work-life balance in nursing.

In conclusion, per diem nursing can offer the flexibility and work-life balance many healthcare professionals crave. While it may seem daunting at first, with proper preparation and the right mindset, it can be an incredibly rewarding career path. Remember, the key is to be experienced, independent, and well-prepared. Here’s to your success in per diem nursing!

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Work-Life Balance in Nursing