Pros and Cons of Per Diem Nursing

Being a nurse offers a lot of perks. You get to go to work wearing comfortable jogger scrub pants, your profession is in high demand and you earn a lucrative salary. And, if you desire, your career can even include travel. Instead of working in the same facility long-term, per diem nurses work on an assignment basis

Meaning “per day” in Latin, the term “per diem” refers to temporary employment in the healthcare industry. Some assignments last only a day or two, while others last several weeks. In either case, the role of a per diem nurse is to fill a gap in coverage in a medical facility. These gaps tend to pop up at the last minute, so the pay rate is often premium. 

Pros and Cons of Per Diem Nursing

Source: Jacob Lund/

If you like change and enjoy the challenge of taking on new assignments, per diem nursing could be an excellent option for you. This career path isn’t without some downsides, though. If you are considering per diem nursing but are not sure whether it’s right for you, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind. 

Pros of Per Diem Nursing

Flexible Schedule

Having a flexible schedule is one of the biggest perks of per diem nursing. If you have ever missed out on time with loved ones due to strictly scheduled work commitments, you’ll certainly appreciate having the ability to set your own work schedule.

As a per diem nurse, you don’t have to worry about working weekends (unless you want to) or dealing with mandatory overtime. Instead, you’ll get to control your schedule by accepting assignments for the days and times you want to work. 

Ability to Change Your Work Environment

If you have been working in the field for a while and are feeling burnt out, a change of environment may be needed to reignite your passion. As a per diem nurse, you will have opportunities to work in other facilities. You could even choose to take assignments in other cities or states and use your career as an opportunity to travel the nation. But even if you choose to remain local, you will get to work in different settings, which is excellent for anyone looking for a change of pace and some new experiences. 

More Time for Personal Activities

Pros and Cons of Per Diem Nursing


This goes along with having a flexible schedule, but, as a per diem nurse, you’ll have more time for activities you enjoy. Whether it’s spending time with friends and family, working on your favorite hobbies, starting a side hustle or just relaxing, having the freedom to set your own schedule means you will have more time for the things that are most important to you. 

Cons of Per Diem Nursing

Decreased Job Security

Nurses are always in high demand. Unfortunately, you may have less job security if you choose to work on a per diem basis. This is especially true if you are unable to travel for assignments. Not knowing when a shift might become available takes a mental toll, as does waiting for a last-minute phone call. Plus, you might not always be able to work when you want. 

  • Inconsistent Paychecks

For many folks, inconsistent paychecks are the biggest drawback of per diem nursing. While assignments often pay premium rates, you don’t always know how many hours you will be working during a pay period. And if per diem nursing is your sole source of income, this can make keeping up with your bills challenging. Of course, you also need to consider how inconsistent paychecks would affect you if you needed to buy a new pair of high-waisted scrub pants or if you needed new nursing shoes on a week when you had a smaller-than-usual paycheck. 

If you choose to make per diem nursing your primary source of income, you will need to develop excellent budgeting skills. Setting aside extra money when you have a great week will help you get through the weeks where not so many shifts are available. If you tend to spend extra money as soon as you earn it, this might not be the right career choice for you. 

Less Support and Benefits

Being a per diem nurse means you won’t have as much community support as you would have when working full-time at a healthcare facility. If you have questions or need help, you might have a harder time finding it. And, as a per diem nurse, you might not have the same benefits a full-time nurse would have. This depends on the agency you work with, though, so be sure to inquire about benefits when vetting per diem staffing agencies. 

Which One Is Right for You? 

Pros and Cons of Per Diem Nursing


Per diem nursing isn’t without risks and drawbacks, but it’s an attractive alternative to traditional nursing positions for many people. If you love adventure and enjoy facing new challenges head-on, working on a per diem basis is a great way to make your job more exciting while giving you a greater degree of control over your schedule. And when you choose the right agency, you can enjoy a lucrative wage and benefits. 

However, if you prefer consistency and stability, life as a per diem nurse may not suit you. Succeeding in this career requires an ability to roll with the punches and a willingness to sacrifice stability to gain freedom. 


Being a per diem nurse allows you to work in different facilities and interact with patients from all walks of life. Every assignment brings new challenges, and it’s a great way to overcome the monotony and burnout that often accompanies working full-time in the same facility for several years. You’ll also have the freedom to choose what days and shifts to work, which is one of the biggest perks that draws people to per diem nursing. 

Only you can decide whether this career path is right for you. Weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. If you choose to embark on this journey, do plenty of research to find a reputable per diem nursing agency that meets your needs. 

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