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Rethinking Agency Nurses

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, November 13, 2012

Although only about 65% of the U.S. population is white, non-Hispanic, about 83% of RNs are white, non-Hispanic. The demographics of agency nurses more closely resemble that of the United States.

Then there's the fact that agency nurses are willing to travel, and as a result are more likely to hold nursing licenses in several states simultaneously. The research also found that during the period surveyed, between 4.4% and 13.7% of supplemental nurses worked in states in which they didn't reside, compared with 2.6% to 4.5% of permanent nurses.

In a perfect world, nurses would all hold at least a bachelor's degree or higher. They'd get paid tons of money, never be asked to work overtime, never get sleepy or burned out, and never get slapped around by patients or disrespected by doctors.

I'm not saying that agency nurses are the perfect solution. But if a nursing shortage is on the horizon, at least this study can reassure leaders that when it comes to education and experience, agency nurses are holding their own.


Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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2 comments on "Rethinking Agency Nurses"


shannon (11/14/2012 at 6:45 PM)
So it's not okay to mandate OT but for many nurses that work a full time job and then do agency work often work multiple hours all over the place. So if we really are considered about patient safety maybe we should increase the normal wages and salaries so that we can entice people to enter the profession verse over working nurses to the point of burnout just an idea.

Thomas A. Coss (11/14/2012 at 12:14 PM)
Agency Nurses also enable hospitals to wage discriminate and there by actually saves them money. Additionally, from my years as an Agency RN, I developed a broad base of experience across multiple healthcare systems that has served me well to this day. Excellent piece.