Can You be a Per Diem Travel Nurse?

Per diem nurse with stethoscope

A per diem travel nurse can see the country while remaining very flexible with their schedules, gaining additional experience, and earning extra income. Travel nursing is typically full-time contract work with specific engagement rules, such as the number of weeks you are needed, the hours you will work, and the specific facility you are in. However, it is possible to bring the flexibility of per diem to the world of travel nursing.  

What is a Travel Nurse? 

Travel nurses are registered nurses (RNs) that fill in on an as-needed basis in healthcare settings. They travel to a facility in need of additional staff support, and sign a mutual contract for their time and services. Assignments can be located anywhere across the country. Travel nurses must be licensed in every state where they may be working. 

Travel nursing contracts allow nurses to see new parts of the country without having to pay for moving or travel expenses. They also have the opportunity to build valuable job experience, both in terms of the types of nursing they may practice and the different facility types they may be working in, all while caring for patients that need extra support. 

When you work as a contracted travel nurse you can expect to receive housing, healthcare benefits, a competitive hourly rate, and the potential to extend your contract to a longer-term engagement. 

What is a Per Diem Nurse? 

Per diem nurses work a very flexible schedule because they pick up shifts one at a time. This ad-hoc method of picking up shifts means they can work as much or as little as they need or want to. Per diem shifts are also available for nursing professionals beyond RNs. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are also able to pick up per diem shifts.  

Working per diem allows nursing professionals to work part-time or pick up extra hours outside of their regular position. This type of work is often ideal for someone that is raising a child, in school, or taking care of an elderly loved one. The flexibility per diem offers also means that you can choose not to work holidays and weekends, and that you don’t have to make a larger commitment to a specific facility. 

Flexibility is the biggest benefit to working per diem. Depending on how you pick up shifts, per diem work may also be eligible for employment benefits.  

What Should you Consider to be a Per Diem Travel Nurse? 

Many nursing professionals would consider travel nursing if they felt like it would be a flexible option. Can you take the best of both worlds and combine them together? It is possible to be a per diem travel nurse, but there are important considerations.  

State by State License 

If you want to pick up per diem shifts while you are traveling (perhaps you are visiting family in a different state for an extended period, or want to make some extra money while on vacation) you can do so. However, you must be licensed in the state in which you want to practice.  

If you live in one of the 34 states in the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC), then you can use your license across state lines. Check here to make sure your state is included or may be included soon.  

Always verify state by state what the requirements are to make sure you are staying compliant before picking up a per diem shift.  

Travel Costs 

If you are locked into a contract you will need to stay in one place until that contract is complete. With per diem travel nursing, you have the ability to move freely on your own schedule. However, this means that the travel and housing costs covered in contract travel employment will not be available to you. You will need to be prepared to “pay your own way” as a per diem travel nurse, or plan to stay with friends or family. 

No Obligation to a Single Facility  

As a per diem travel nurse you are not locked into a contract; therefore, there is no obligation to only work for one facility. You can test out different facility types or stick with one you really love! If you decide your travels have taken you somewhere you don’t want to be anymore, you can move to the next location without breaking any contractual obligations. 

Working as a per diem travel nurse can be a wonderful way to gain new experiences, develop your career, and earn a little extra money. If you are interested in taking the leap into per diem, sign up with IntelyCare! 


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