When hospitals have unexpected high-census days, they benefit from having a pool of PRN nurses, but are there advantages to working PRN? If you have been thinking about ditching your full-time nursing job to work PRN, you should understand exactly what working that type of job entails. There are a few negative aspects of the per diem nursing job but, for certain professionals, the advantages may outweigh them.

What is PRN?

PRN is an acronym for the Latin pro re nata, which translates to “as the situation demands.” These nurses are fully licensed and certified professionals who have elected to work in a hospital’s pool of on-call personnel or for an agency that provides temporary medical staff to hospitals. They agree to work a minimum number of hours a month as hospital pool nurses, and may work nearly full-time if they are employed by an agency.

What are the Negatives?

The forum at AllNurses.com posed the question of how nurses felt about working PRN. Although mainly positive, the responses had some negative points. First, you have no assurance you will be able to work enough to meet your earnings needs; PRN nurses are the first to be called off when there is a short census. Second, you generally have no benefits package like paid time off days, insurance and retirement. You must buy your own health insurance, and the premiums are generally higher than group plans.

What are the Positives?

Work.Chron.com says that PRN nursing is the perfect employment for some nurses. You set your own schedule, which means you can work around childcare needs or take time off to care for other family members. Hospitals and nursing homes typically have a lot of requests for holiday time off and many full-time nurses end up sitting at the hospital while their family celebrates Christmas or Thanksgiving. Summer vacations are also hard to arrange if you don’t work PRN. PRN nurses simply do not accept work when they don’t want to. While it is true that PRN nurses generally receive no benefits package, their hourly wages are set higher to compensate for that. PRN pay may be as much as ten or eleven dollars higher than the regular nursing staff wages. If you are called in on a holiday or overnight shift, you might receive overtime or shift differential pay at your PRN rate. In addition, if you agree to work a higher minimum number of hours as a pool nurse, or if you work for an agency, the employer might provide some benefits. You have to be flexible, and work different shifts or maybe even work unfamiliar areas in the hospital, but that can also be a positive factor because it keeps the job from becoming mundane. Another positive aspect of PRN nursing is that you can work more than one PRN job and get as many hours as you need at your higher pay. You might, for example, work for a hospital as a pool nurse and also for a home healthcare agency as a temp, filling in to provide home care for patients when their regular nurses cannot be there. If you are a beginning nurse, you might accept a PRN job to get your foot in the door in a hospital where you hope to gain full-time employment (also see: How To Interview for Your First Nursing Job).

There are pros and cons to every job. While there are some disadvantages to working as a per diem nurse, the job is ideal for many people. Older nurses who want to remain employed but can no longer work a full day, for example, or a young mother with children, might find there are many advantages of working PRN.