What is a PRN Nurse?

So, you are looking into potentially becoming a PRN nurse. What does this mean, and is it worth it?

The term PRN means “pro re nata” in Latin, and is used in medical terminology to mean “as needed.” Per diem, PRN, and casual nurses are all considered to be “on-call nurses” that fill empty positions. These nurses are not scheduled employees.

Types of Nursing Positions

What is a PRN nurse

Nursing is a career that has many options for scheduling. This is fantastic for people who don’t want to work the traditional 40 hours a week, Monday – Friday. Different nursing positions have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

A full-time nurse works a full schedule, around 40 hours a week. This position has assigned work days throughout the week and weekend and can involve days, evenings, and night shifts. Full-time nurses received health benefits from their job.

Full-time employees are not able to pick up extra shifts on top of their regular working schedule. They always know what their upcoming work schedule is, and are able to exchange shifts with other full-time nurses if needed.

Can nurses work part-time? Yes! A part-time nurse works less than a full-time nurse. They have scheduled shifts, but do not work a full-time schedule. Part-time nurses can work as little as one shift a week or can work near full-time hours.

Part-time nurses often receive health benefits for their position, as they are scheduled workers. They can pick up extra shifts outside of their schedule up to the hours of a full-time staff.

Temporary nurses are employees who fill short-term position openings. When a nurse leaves a part-time or full-time position for a period of time (work leave, maternity leave, etc.) a temporary nurse fills this position. They take all of the scheduled shifts of the nurse who has left.

Once the original nurse returns to work, this job is terminated. Some temporary nursing jobs can be for a couple of months, some for over a year. Temporary nurses can receive some health benefits but are often not given full access to the benefits of a permanent employee.

Per Diem, PRN, or casual nurses are all terms for the same position. These nurses do not have shifts planned outside of a two week- one month period. These staff members are brought onto the unit when there is not adequate staffing. PRN employees can be called on the day of a shift to come into the hospital. Per diem nurses can work up to full-time hours in a week if they are given enough shifts.

PRN nurses do not receive health benefits. Per diem nurses have the flexibility to decide when they want to work, but are not guaranteed any shifts. Many PRN nurses have more than one PRN position to fill their schedules. PRN CNA positions also exist.

Benefits of Being a PRN Nurse

Benefits of Being a PRN Nurse

There are many benefits to PRN nursing. PRN nurses do not have a set schedule. They are able to decide when they want to work and when they do not. If you are a person who does not like having a set work schedule each week, PRN nursing is an excellent option for you.

PRN nurses are able to have more than one job at the same time. Because PRN nursing is not based on a schedule and does not promise a guaranteed number of hours, many per diem nurses have more than one position at different facilities. This offers variety in your type of work and can lead to increased work connections.

Commonly, PRN nurses are paid more than regularly scheduled nurses. This is because they are not offered a schedule and must be available on short notice. PRN nurses are not guaranteed a specific number of shifts a month, so increased pay incentivizes staff to remain on the per diem list.

PRN nursing is excellent if you are just starting out after your nursing degree. Many health facilities do not want to hire new nurses for full-time positions on their unit. By having a PRN position, new nurses can develop their skills and gain confidence in nursing before applying to more permanent positions.

PRN nurses have the opportunity to work on a variety of different nursing units. They can learn other skills and know what type of nursing they genuinely enjoy. Developing different nursing skills is an excellent asset for nurses wanting to get a full-time position. Variety keeps the nurse engaged at work.

If these conditions are applicable and attractive to you, then being a PRN nurse is worth it for you!

Drawbacks of Being a PRN Nurse

There are drawbacks to being a PRN nurse. If you need a steady source of guaranteed income, PRN nursing is not for you. PRN nurses do not get a guaranteed number of shifts, and therefore do not have a steady or consistent paycheque. If you require consistency in your paycheques, per diem nursing will not work for you.

If you require health benefits, PRN nursing is not for you. PRN nurses do not receive health benefits. If you have a long-standing chronic health condition that requires benefits to pay for medications and treatments, PRN nursing is not for you.

If you rely on having a schedule for you, PRN nursing is not for you. Per diem nurses do not have a set schedule for each week. If you like to work at the same time every day throughout the week or do not like working weekends, evenings, or night shifts, PRN nursing is not for you.

If you do not like the surprise of being called the day of the shift to work, PRN nursing is not for you. Per diem employees must be prepared and available to work at any time. If you do not like maintaining an open schedule and having your phone available for all calls to work, PRN nursing is not for you.

Commonly Asked Questions / Definitions

  • What are the benefits of working PRN, and what are the benefits of per diem nursing?

There are many benefits, including flexible scheduling, ability to work on many different locations, ability to learn new skills, and increased pay due to lack of scheduled work.

  • What is the definition of the medical term “PRN”?

PRN means “pro re nata” in Latin, which translates to “as needed.”

  • What is a PRN or per diem employee?

A PRN employee is a non-scheduled worker who fills shifts “as needed.” They can be called into work on the day of their shift, and are not guaranteed a certain number of shifts a week.

  • What is the difference between per diem and PRN?

There is no difference between per diem and PRN employees. Both of these terms refer to the same position type.

  • Do per diem employees get benefits?

Most often, per diem or PRN staff do not receive health benefits.

  • What is a PRN nurse? What is a PRN CNA?

Working per diem or PRN means that you are not a scheduled worker. You are called in to fill shifts when needed. Nurses and CNA’s can work per diem and PRN.

  • What are full-time nursing hours?

Full-time nursing hours is 40 hours a week, and can be divided into day, evening, night, or weekend shifts.

  • What are part-time nursing hours?

Part-time nurses work anywhere from 1 shift a week to up to almost full-time hours.

  • How does per diem nursing work? What is a PRN nurse schedule?

If you are a per diem nurse, you are hired into a pool of other per diem nurses. You tell your employer your availability, and they will contact you to offer shifts when vacancies occur.

  • How many hours can per diem employees work?

Per diem employees can work up to full-time hours (40 hours a week) at one location. If a per diem nurse is employed at more than one facility, they can work more than 40 hours a week if scheduling allows.

  • How many hours is a PRN job?

PRN employees get to decide how many hours a week they want to work by setting their own availability.

  • How much do part-time nurses make? What is a part-time nursing salary?

Part-time nurses make different amounts of money depending on where they work. Part-time nurses make less money than full-time nurses.

Per diem nursing hourly wages:

Hourly wages of per diem nurses are dependent on where the nurse is employed. Often, per diem nurses are paid more per shift than scheduled workers.

Per diem vs. on call:

These terms refer to the same thing, meaning that these employees are called in on the day of their working shifts.

Per diem vs. temporary employees:

Temporary nurses cover a scheduled nurse’s shifts when they are away for a medical leave. Per diem nurses cover empty shifts throughout the week and are never scheduled.

Summary – Is Working Per Diem Worth It?

There are many different types of nursing positions. One of the great things about nursing as a profession is the flexibility of job scheduling. Nurses work during the days, evenings, nights, and weekends. 

If you want to have a consistent schedule for work, full-time nursing, part-time nursing, or temporary nursing is the position type for you.

If you want work schedule flexibility and do not require a consistent paycheque from one job source, PRN nursing is the position type for you.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to PRN nursing, and each nurse must consider their lifestyle and desired outcome of employment before deciding which position is best for them!