Nursing knowledge, assertiveness, flexibility, and professionalism are the key qualities an agency nurse must possess to be successful.
Agency nursing is unique in that nurses work for a staffing agency rather than permanently employed as staff in a health care facility. The benefits of being agency staff include: higher pay rates, greater flexibility, and a variety of clinical experiences.
In order to be a successful agency nurse, you must be knowledgeable, with recent hospital experience, strong physical assessment skills, and excellent critical thinking skills. As an agency nurse, you must be able to provide superior care to patients and their families, as well as work as a “team-player” with the other staff nurses.
A permanent staff nurse might receive 6-12 weeks of unit orientation where as an agency nurse might receive less than 1 hour. Therefore, agency nurses must be assertive so that if they need to involve the charge nurse, nurse manager, medical team, and/or nursing supervisor they do so while working as an advocate for the patient.
Flexibility is also a quality an agency nurse must have. Hospitals pay a premium to have agency nurses staff their facilities. Therefore, hospitals expect agency nurses to be flexible and willing to work wherever they are needed within their clinical qualifications. Last minute staffing changes sometimes mean an agency or staff person is asked to move to another unit or department. Hospitals remember the agency nurses that demonstrate their willingness to help whereever they are needed.
Last, but not least, is professionalism. This includes neatness, on-time arrival, friendliness, and a general “ready-to-work” attitude that together makes for a highly successful agency nurse who will be invited back to the hospitals time and time again.