Is agency nursing right for you?

The latest data from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia shows there are currently  more than 360,000 nurses practicing in Australia, and demand keeps growing.

The number of nurses who choose to work through nursing agencies is also growing.

What is a Nursing agency?

Nursing agencies work on behalf of private, public, and residential medical facilities to find qualified and experienced nurses.

When you’re an agency nurse, you are contracted to the agency, rather than the hospital or medical practice itself.

Agency nursing is a rewarding job for nurses who enjoy freedom, variety, and flexibility.

Being able to choose your shifts not only offers a greater lifestyle, but it also means that you can select the field you want to work in, and, with access to a range of suitable positions in different locations and in varying shifts, you can take control of the hours you work.

The benefits of controlling your own schedule

Annie is a mum of three primary school aged children. For her, the decision to become an agency nurse was made when she was ready to re-enter the workforce after spending some years at home with her children while they were very young.

Agency nursing pays better than her previous full-time employment, and so she is able to earn a steady income on just three of four shifts per week which she arranges around her husband’s work commitments. Sometimes this means doing a night shift, at other times the weekends. But most importantly, having the flexibility of being able to have control over when and where she works, means that she can create a balance between her professional life and also her family’s needs.

Annie also acknowledges that agency nursing has provided her with a way to transition back into the workforce, helping her to regain her confidence and adapt back into work, after a period of time out.


Nursing through an agency can provide fresh new experiences and opportunities every day – meeting new people and working in different departments and environments can be a great way to learn valuable new on-the-job skills, which will ultimately boost your career, and also keep you stimulated in your chosen profession.

Agency nursing can open your eyes to other areas of nursing which may motivate you to pursue further study and embark on a career in a different aspect of nursing. This has been the case with Tara, a single nurse in her late 20s. Tara is passionate about agency nursing because it gives her the opportunity to dedicate time to her other passion – triathlons. But she also says that because she is only at the start of her career, agency nursing is giving her exposure to a number of different work environments and medical specialities. She is considering specialising in either midwifery or paediatrics as a result, and is working out the best options for further study.

Higher rate of pay

Agency nurses are usually paid a high rate per hour to compensate for the fact that they don’t get entitlements such as holiday pay and long service leave. In essence, this puts you in control of your income – you can work as little or as much as you like, but when you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

Mark is an avid traveller, so agency nursing is a great option for him. He works hard for months on end to save for his travelling experiences, and because he is not in a permanent full-time role, he is able to take large chunks of time off – sometimes months – to visit other countries and then come back to work when he is ready.

Is agency nursing for you?

Agency nursing is an important career decision and if you decide you’d like to be an agency nurse then it’s important to do your homework and find the right agency. Not all nursing agencies are the same and you should research a few before deciding which is the right ‘fit’ for you. Best Practice Nursing Agency is one such agency, who puts you the nurse first! The agency has positions for both Registered and Enrolled Nurses and also AINs.

Just as when you’re considering any role – take a moment to work out your career goals too. Ask yourself what you most want to get out of being an agency nurse.

Applying to be an agency nurse

Ensure that you have all your qualifications and registration papers in order, particularly if you have had an extended period out of nursing. You will be required to have these ready and available for the agency, and if you have everything up-to-date, and at hand, you can start taking on shifts sooner.

Weigh up the pros and cons of agency work

While some people love the flexibility and variety of agency work, some people, on the other hand prefer the stability and predictability of a full-time role, and most agencies can help you find work no matter what your preference.

Agencies offer a range of work in rural areas, or in the field of ‘care-at-home services’, aged care, hospitals, private medical clinics and a range of other healthcare settings.

So be clear about what you want – agency nursing is not just a job, it’s a career decision and you need to be certain it’s right for you.

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