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By July 21, 2008 7 Comments

Travel Nursing vs. Per Diem Nursing


So you’ve gone to school, learned what you need to know to become a nurse and then proceeded to find your first job at a hospital and start your life in the workforce. Sound about right? Like many nurses and allied health professionals today, very few explore options outside of just becoming another employee of some hospital. Surprisingly many do not know about Travel nursing or Per Diem travel nursing. Each has many advantages not afforded to regular staff nurses with increased pay rates the most beneficial.

So what’s the difference between the two, Travel Nursing & Per Diem Nursing?

Let’s start with Per Diem nursing. Imagine a world where you can pick the shifts you want to work, a job that doesn’t require you to work weekends or holidays. Have you ever thought that this could be possible? Well it is. Do you remember the days of elementary school when you’re teacher would be out sick for a couple days or absent for awhile because they had a baby and then you got the substitute teacher for the next month? Per Diem nursing is similar to that scenario, except now you are the sub.

Working Per Diem allows you to choose the hospital you want to work at and at what times with no requirements attached. Also, the pay rate for your time is much more than that of a staff nurse which is also very enticing. However, like most things that seem to good to be true, there are dangers with being a Per Diem nurse. Remember you are there at the hospital to fill in, and when that hospital has found a permanent replacement or there’s a shift in need, Per Diem nurses are usually the first to go.
What you can do though, is not rely on Per Diem as your main source of income and rather turn it into a supplemental source which enables you to earn more when you need it.

Now on to Travel nursing and it’s advantages, and yes, disadvantages. I imagine if you’re reading this blog you already have an interest in this field or are currently employed as such. LIke Per Diem jobs, you can pick and choose where you want to work. Whether it be in California or West Virginia, the opportunities are boundless. Unlike Per Diem jobs, you are guaranteed your shifts, however you may have to work a weekend or a holiday, which is a slight drawback, but just remember where you are. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy the white s and y beaches or breathtaking views of the Rocky mountains without having took the job in the first place. While under contract, your position is safe from cancellation and permanent staff members are usually the first to be cut. After you have fulfilled your obligation to your agency and hospital you are free to chose another location or if the need is still there, extend your stay at your current location.

There are many agencies out there that offer both Travel Nursing and Travel Per Diem jobs. When you sign on with an agency you will be provided with benefits such as housing, health insurance, retirement plans and shift differentials. There are also bonuses and other perks available to you when signing on with an agency, like Medical Solutions. So remember, do your research, explore your options and see what’s waiting for you… Outside your comfort zone.

Posted in: Travel Nursing

About the Author:

Patrick Fuerstenau here. Born in Kentucky, raised in Germany, landed in Nebraska and still here. I've been involved with Marketing and Advertising for over a decade. It all began with an internship at an ad agency in Omaha, followed by a 9 year stint as a graphic artist at the lone major newspaper in Omaha. A friend of mine told me about an opening at her company and said that it was the best gig she's ever had... So I decided to spread my proverbial wings and see what I could do for them and vice versa. So here I am at Medical Solutions as a Marketing Specialist for a great travel nursing company. This by far has been a major blessing in my life. I love the work I get to do just as much as I love the people who make up this fabulous company. I can see myself here for a long time... As long as they'll have me. Now that we've got the career timeline out of the way... Let me tell you a little about who I am. I am oh so passionate about the game of futbol! I've been playing soccer since the age of 8 and am still playing today. If I couldn't at least kick the ball around, I don't know what I would do with myself. I fear getting old. I also have a strong love for the arts... Music, Visual arts, Film, Design... pretty much anything and everything arty. I'm happy go lucky and am always looking to have a good time. Just ask my manager! And I love writing about travel nursing.

7 Comments on "Travel Nursing vs. Per Diem Nursing"

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  1. Superleeroy


    Hi ,

    My name is Lee and ive just joined this forum so i thought id say hi !



  2. Patrick says:


    Hey thanks for joining our blog! I hope you can find some valuable information here that you can put to use in your traveling career! Come back every week, we’re updating constantly and soon we’ll be adding a guest author. She was a nurse and will be a welcome addition to our already high ranking blog. Don’t forget to subscribe so you know when we’ve updated the site. Thanks again and happy reading!

  3. awammenienry


    Hi. I regularly scan this forum. This is the oldest together unequivocal to ask a ridiculous.
    How numberless in this forum are references progressive behind, artful users?
    Can I bank all the facts that there is?

  4. Louis


    Hi, I am a new nurse, and one of the major draws for me was the travel-nursing career path. I also have a pilot’s license, so I’m curious if this could work to my advantage at some point. I could take per diem jobs week-to-week in different regions (chicago one week, then Texas the next, for instance). Have you ever heard of anyone doing such a thing?

  5. Jeff says:


    I have never heard of that, but it seems like it could work if you are very organized. It seems like a pilot’s license would come in real handy for a travel nurse, especially when it comes to getting home between assignments. I’m also going to forward this question to David Morrison, author of Travel Nurse’s Bible who writes for us as well to see if he has any thoughts.

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