PRN Explained: Everything You Need to Know About Per Diem Staffing

Oct 31, 2023

Just about everyone has heard of part-time and full-time work schedules. But not everyone knows what “PRN” means.

PRN is a term used heavily in the medical world, so if you’re a nurse you’ve likely heard it a million times. You might have seen it on prescription bottles, job postings, and have probably heard it used by your coworkers. But what does PRN mean in medical terms?

What Does PRN Mean?

First things first – let’s decode the abbreviation. “PRN” stands for “pro re nata,” a Latin phrase meaning “as needed” or “as the situation arises.” In the healthcare industry, working Per Diem refers to a type of employment arrangement where professionals work on an as-needed basis, typically stepping in to cover shifts or fill gaps in staffing.

What’s it Like Working PRN Shifts in Healthcare?

A lot of nurses switch to working per diem shifts because it allows them to create their schedules. Nurses who work with PRN agencies tend to make more money than staff nurses and experience a better work-life balance.

Flexibility at its Finest

One of the greatest advantages of working PRN in the healthcare industry is the unmatched flexibility it offers. This arrangement allows healthcare professionals to choose when and how often they work, giving them greater control over their schedules. PRN employees have the freedom to prioritize personal commitments, pursue further education, or explore other interests without being tied down to a rigid work routine.

More Growth Opportunities

Unlike full-time roles that can get routine, per diem exposes you to different settings. One day you could be in a fast-paced emergency room, the next in a calming hospice environment. This keeps things interesting and challenges you to adapt your approach.

Hospitals have various departments, from pediatrics to cardiology. As a per diem worker, you can choose shifts in areas that pique your curiosity. This broadens your knowledge base and may spark an interest in a specialty you weren’t interested in.

When you work in different facilities, you encounter various equipment, protocols, and patient populations. This hones your ability to handle diverse situations and makes you a more resourceful healthcare provider.

Each setting throws unique challenges your way. In a clinic, you might focus on preventative care, while long-term care involves understanding chronic conditions. This exposure equips you with a wider range of skills to tackle various healthcare scenarios.

When you return to a full-time job search, your per diem experience showcases your adaptability, strong work ethic, and willingness to learn. It demonstrates you’re a well-rounded provider comfortable in different environments.

Escape the Burnout Trap

Employee thinking about switching to PRN

The healthcare industry is notorious for demanding work schedules and high-stress environments, often leading to employee burnout. Working Per Diem can be a breath of fresh air for those seeking a change of pace. With the ability to set your hours, PRN employment can help mitigate burnout risks and improve overall job satisfaction.

It also allows you to have a work-life balance that works for you. Nurses who work per diem can switch their schedules every week giving them the ability to ensure all of their commitments are met while allowing themselves the time they need to rest.

Nurses Who Work PRN Jobs Make More Money

While PRN work may not provide the stability of full-time employment, it does come with some financial perks. Per diem professionals often earn higher hourly rates compared to their full-time counterparts. Additionally, working PRN can provide an opportunity to supplement income for those already employed full-time, allowing them to save for specific goals or pay off debts more quickly.

Pro tip: You can work full-time hours as a PRN employee. If that is what you are looking for, keep your availability open!

Considerations to Keep in Mind

While the PRN arrangement may sound ideal, it is essential to consider a few potential challenges. If you go the 1099 route fluctuating income and a lack of benefits, such as healthcare coverage or retirement plans, are common downsides. Nurses who use “gig apps” receive little to no support or communication from the app owners, and are required to keep all of their credentials up to date on their own.

Nurses who work for W2 PRN agencies receive more support because they are considered employees. Full-time nurses can receive benefits, they get support from staffing managers, an HR team helps them with credentials, and staffing managers can help find them a new shift if they get canceled.

Working Per Diem in the healthcare industry provides professionals with a unique and flexible career path. It offers the freedom to tailor one’s schedule and explore various clinical settings, all while providing the opportunity to avoid burnout and potentially earn higher wages. However, it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks before diving into this employment arrangement. Whether you are a seasoned healthcare professional or just starting your career, working Per diem might be the right choice for a more balanced and fulfilling professional life.

What we do

Allied Healthcare & Nurse Staffing Services

Founded in 1988, Cascade Health Services is a leading healthcare and nurse staffing agency in the United States. More than 2,500 nurses, nurse aides and allied health professionals work with Cascade across the nation. We are hiring RN, LPN, LVN, CNA, CMA, CMT and other healthcare professionals for immediate Travel, Contract and PRN jobs in Nursing Homes, Long Term Care Centers, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living, Rehabilitation Centers and Hospitals.