So, you may have heard that your nursing buddies are making extra money through “agency” and “casual pool”. But being honest with yourself, you don’t know what that means, how they differ from each other and if it’s something you should pursue too. We know the terminology might be confusing, so throughout this post we explain what agency and casual pool nursing is and highlight the key components of each to see which (or any) is right for you.
What is Agency Nursing?
Companies like NNA are what is called a nursing agency. They are generally independent companies that work closely with hospitals and community health facilities to help fill staffing vacancies. Some nursing agencies are small and offer staffing solutions to only a handful of organisations in a specific healthcare field or location whilst others are much larger catering to tertiary hospitals in Sydney.
When thinking about the public vs private sector, most agencies have relationships with health facilities and hospitals in both areas. This is one of the special aspects of agency nursing as you’re able to experience first hand the unique differences and similarities of both such as conditions, patient ratios, patient treatment pathways and follow up care.
Working for a nursing agency isn’t simply for local nurses who are looking for a way to earn a few more dollars. It is also a perfect opportunity for nurses around the world to experience what nursing is like in Australia. With staff training available it can really be the one-stop-shop for local and international nurses looking for a change.
To better understand and summarise agency nursing, a pros and cons list is helpful;
- Greater work life balance and flexibility as you’re not forced to work a shift you don’t enjoy (i.e night shift)
- Competitive rate of pay
- Increased networking and professional development opportunities as you are working across a range of facilities
- No guaranteed work
- Constantly need to adapt to new environments which can make some nurses feel stressed and anxious
What is Casual Pool Nursing?
Casual pool nursing tends to be a little more structured. Instead of working for an agency where you can be asked to work anywhere (within your skill set), you are helping to fill staff vacancies purely across one, single organisation.
Casual pool can be a fun option for nurses as they are able to quickly develop friendships with people on different wards. Though you do move between different units/wards to meet staffing shortages, there are only a limited number of places you can actually work. This can create less anxiety and feelings of isolation as sometimes reported with agency nurses who are bouncing around from one facility to the next.
If you are new to nursing or within your second or third-year casual pool may be ideal. You’ll be able to experience many different wards and environments before committing to permanent hours (if this is something you want to do). Though agency may also be beneficial, having the support of familiar faces around you while learning new skills may be the safety net you need.
Again, to better appreciate and summarise casual nursing, here is the pros and cons list;
- Guaranteed work (there may be a choice between advanced shift bookings or short notice availability)
- Familiar, supportive environment offering a range of clinical specialty units to work in
- Casual loading, staff discounts and offers to; car parking, onsite gymnasium, salary packing, and the health clinic (if available).
- Less pay per hour than if you worked with a nursing agency
- Forced to work certain shifts you may not enjoy (i.e night shift)
- Limited options in choosing where you would like to work
In summary, choosing whether to work for a casual pool versus a nursing agency comes down to a few things. How structured you’d like to live your life and finally how many choices you want to have in where and when you work. There is no right or wrong answer here - nursing is a pretty phenomenal career pathway whichever direction you decide to go down.
Co-Founder The Other Shift