Nurses looking for casual work or extra shifts often do so via nursing agencies. In this article we’ll cover how to find a nursing agency in Australia and look at the best options for nurses who want to sign up with an agency.
What is a nursing agency?
A nursing agency is a business that matches nurses with hospitals and other healthcare facilities which need staff. Nurses can sign up with one or more nursing agencies and be offered casual shifts or temporary contracts at a number of different workplaces. Nursing agencies pay the nurses an hourly rate and make a profit by charging hospitals a commission.
What do nursing agencies do?
Nursing recruitment agencies make it possible for hospitals to cover low staffing levels on a shift by shift basis, sometimes at late notice.
Some of the reasons why healthcare facilities use nursing agencies are:
They are understaffed because of a shortage of nurses in the labour market
The hospital’s budget doesn’t allow them to recruit more full time nurses.
Their staffing needs vary, ie patient admissions or changes in acuity, or nurses call in sick
They don’t have the human resources support they need to hire more nurses
The tasks that nursing agencies perform for healthcare facilities include:
Vetting potential staff
Interviewing and collecting mandatory paperwork
Placing nurses in shift vacancies over the phone, including last-minute shifts
Finding specialised nurses
Nursing agencies can help nurses find work and keep them up-to-date with training requirements. As they also recruit from overseas, helping foreign nurses meet Australian requirements and adjust to working and living in Australia.
Working as an agency nurse also offers a lot of flexibility in terms of hours and locations and can be a great way to achieve work-life balance.
What are the top nursing agencies in Australia?
With so many nursing recruitment agencies in Australia, it can be difficult to choose one to sign up with. For nurses who want to work at a particular hospital, it’s worth finding out if the hospital has a preferred provider nursing agency they use to fill most of their casual shifts. We also suggest asking around to find out who the good agencies are in your area who you may want to consider working with. Below are three of the largest, well-established agencies.
Healthcare Australia is one of the largest nursing recruitment agencies in Australia and covers locations across the country. They also have offices in the UK and New Zealand and offer bonuses for referring other nurses or healthcare professionals. Because they cover many locations, they offer nurses the opportunity to combine work and travel.
Mediserve also employs nurses all across the country, including in rural and remote locations. They provide a nursing scholarship through Curtin University and support community initiatives such as Indigenous Community Volunteers and the Salvation Army. They provide free uniforms and bonuses to nurses who refer other nurses and organise accommodation in rural and remote locations.
Bower Healthcare is Australian owned and operated agency. They have a program to support overseas nurses coming to Australia on working holiday visas and offer free accommodation or a tour on arrival.
How to find a job through a nursing agency
Applying to work as an agency nurse is relatively straightforward. Nurses coming from overseas need to register with AHPRA, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, which is the board that certifies nurses in Australia. For nurses who already have their AHPRA certification, agencies will require a criminal background check, references, vaccination history, evidence of their practicing year level and a working with children clearance.
A great resource for working out which nursing agency will best suit your needs is Nurse In Australia. They are a free comparison service allowing you to compare nursing agencies according to rates of pay, consumer ratings and geographical reach.
The disadvantages of being an agency nurse
Nursing agencies offer a high rate of pay (approximately 45% loading), but employee reviews show that many shifts are cancelled and the high rate of pay doesn’t make up for the financial stress and inconvenience of last-minute cancellations.
Agencies that offer perks to nurses are likely to charge hospitals large commissions for placing nurses in shifts, so those shifts are more likely to be cancelled.
Nursing agencies also charge hefty fees when a healthcare facility wants to permanently employ a nurse who has been placed with them. These fees are so high they make it virtually impossible for the healthcare facility to employ that nurse, even if they love their work.
What are other ways to find casual nursing shifts?
In Australia there is a new alternative to nursing agencies. uPaged is an online platform that allows healthcare facilities and nurses to connect via desktop or an easy-to-use phone app.
How uPaged is different
uPaged is not a nursing recruitment agency. It is an online platform that enables nurses to connect with hospitals and other healthcare facilities that need qualified staff. uPaged first conducts a simple vetting process, including a criminal record check. Once complete, approved nurses can begin filling in their uPaged online profile and start searching for jobs. Potential employers are able to see the nurse’s profile, their specialisation field, experience and testimonials. Nurses can see the location of available shifts, the shift hours, rate of pay on offer and reviews of what it was like for other uPaged nurses to work at that facility. Additionally, uPaged has a free and easy to use app which nurses can use to accept or turn down shifts plus set their availability.
Because employers don’t have to pay large commissions to uPaged (the platform only charges a small commission per shift), they are less likely to cancel shifts.
Unlike nursing agencies, uPaged supports the transition to permanent work and does not charge hospitals large fees when they want to employ a nurse who has previously done shifts with them via uPaged. So when nurses sign up to work casual shifts via uPaged, they can be more confident that they’re not ruining their chances of getting a permanent job at that hospital.
Sign up with uPaged
If you’re a nurse looking for casual shifts, sign up to uPaged today. It’s easy to get started and as soon as your paperwork is approved, your professional profile will be visible to employers. uPaged works with select hospitals, the ones you want to work at.