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Tips on picking up agency shifts when you have a full time job

Posted 22 days ago

The Benefits Of Upskilling From A Registered Nurse To A Midwife (1)

​So you’re already working full time but you need more work. For some nurses the thought of this is crazy talk, but for others like you, it’s a must to live your current lifestyle. Managing your existing schedule needs to work and NNA wants to help make this a reality. While it’s easy to simply accept another agency shift, it’s the logistics and self care which need serious consideration to ensure you don’t burn out. And that’s exactly what we are going to explore here today.

Picking up Agency Work When Your Schedule Is Already Full

There is no one-size-fits all solution when it comes to picking up agency work whilst already working a full time job. It depends greatly on where you live, the nature and hours of your full time job and also what your goals are in securing more work.

If you are a full-time rotating shift worker, meaning you work mornings, afternoons, night shifts and also weekends, consider the following 3 points which could lead to success in picking up more agency work;

1.Could you add another night shift onto your existing run or pick up an extra shift on your “weekend”?

2.Call NNA to discuss which shifts they have available around your current workplace to shorten the commute if you were considering two shifts in one day.

3.Whilst in contact with NNA you could also discuss if any shorter shifts/less physically demanding shifts were available which align with your skillset.

Alternatively, if you’re a full time, Monday to Friday, 9-5 (ish) worker, picking up agency shifts is a little more straight forward. If you’ve got the traditional Saturday and Sunday weekend off you could consider picking up agency shifts there.

Personally, I really enjoyed working a Saturday morning agency shift when I was in this position. I was able to enjoy my Saturday night off and all of Sunday, making me feel relatively “normal” amongst friends.

Depending on your specific job, you could also consider picking up a swing shift on top of your full time job. This shift will vary in time and duration depending on the facility but there could be a shift available from approximately 5.30pm - 1am for example. This shift time and arrangement will not suit everyone, but you may find it works depending on the location of both jobs and how physically demanding each one is respectively.

Again, get in contact with NNA and discuss the options available to you.

It’s also worth mentioning, how flexible are your permanent hours? Can these be altered to suit a specific agency shift if it was to pop up? Could you swap shifts with a friend or even modify your hours slightly. Though it may seem impossible, your manager may be more accommodating than you may think.

Further Grow Your Nursing Skills

Before you consider picking up agency shifts on top of your full time job, it’s worth contemplating completing a course which broadens your nursing skills.

Being able to offer the facilities more expertise, such as advanced life support and venipuncture, can help increase your chances of securing work in a variety of settings at times which suit you.

NNA have partnered with Australian Healthcare Academy (AHA) to offer their staff a range of such courses which are ideal in further growing and developing your skills. Though taking a course when working full time may be a difficult feat, it’s worth considering for long term gain.

Finding Time For Self Care Is Essential

For others observing your busy life, they might be thinking, when do you sleep? When do you have time to cook? How do you maintain your relationships? And these are all very valid questions and deserve consideration.

Here are some important self care tips you should consider when working full-time whilst also picking up agency shifts;


○Consider buying a pair of blue light blocking glasses and wearing them for at least 90 minutes before you go to sleep.

○Blockout your bedroom as much as possible using blackout blinds. This allows your sleep hormones, specifically melatonin to do their job properly without being disturbed by the light.

○Avoid eating 2 hours before you sleep, particularly those foods which are spicy or highly acidic, as it can lead to reflux.

○Limit your caffeine consumption at least 6 hours before bed. Consider herbal drinks like chamomile tea as a relaxing alternative.

○Instead of scrolling on your phone whilst in bed, consider downloading a book from audible, turning off the lights and listening to a story in bed. This allows you to wind down without the blue light disturbing your sleep hormones.

○Embrace short naps where appropriate. Tired whilst driving after a shift? It’s okay to pull over and have a power nap before continuing your journey home.


○Any movement is good movement. Walks, sit ups while watching the ads on TV or yoga in bed. Anything.

○Consider short duration, high intensity exercise like skipping, a spin / circuit class or following a fitness app.

○Remember incidental exercise such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or parking a little further away from your destination.

Mental Health

○When driving home from a shift, try sitting in silence. Turn off the noise and allow your brain to consolidate the shift you’ve just had. This silence is bliss.

○Make time, even if it’s only short, for the things you enjoy. If it’s catching up on episodes of MAFS, baking or walking the dog, schedule these activities in. Making them a nonnegotiable part of your routine.

○Try meditation. Headspace offers incredible, short mindfulness sessions via their app. 5 minutes might be all you need to rejuvenate.

●Meal Prep

○Consider food delivery companies such as Hellofresh, Marley Spoon and Soulara to help make eating healthy, simple.

○If you have a spare hour or two, spend time cooking freezable meals such as soups, a casserole, spaghetti sauce or fritters which can be individually wrapped and easily reheated.


○Embrace the time you do have together with your family and friends. Put your phones down, turn off the TV and simply enjoy each other's company.

○Whilst on break during your shift, use video calling to reach out to your loved ones if and where appropriate.

○Schedule time to talk about the things that are concerned about or are bothering you. Try not to push these issues to the side as they are unlikely to disappear on their own.

In summary, picking up agency shifts whilst working full time is not impossible but it requires strategic planning and a solid self-care plan. If this situation is all too familiar, be in contact with NNA to discuss work options within close proximity to home or your existing workplace. They want to assist you in finding appropriate agency shifts around your already hectic schedule.

Emma Smith

Registered Nurse