Choosing Between Per Diem and Travel Nursing


Chloe’ Sizer | March 5th, 2024

Both per diem and travel nursing offer flexibility and increased earning potential compared to traditional staff nursing. However, making the right choice for your lifestyle and career goals requires understanding their key differences. Let’s dive in and help you decide which path is best for you!

Per Diem Nursing
Local Focus: Per diem nurses work on an “as needed” basis, usually within a short distance from their home. Assignments are often short-term, ranging from a single shift to a few weeks.
Ultimate Flexibility: You have complete control over your schedule, choosing when and where you work. This is ideal for nurses seeking a better work-life balance or those with other commitments.
Familiar Surroundings: You’ll likely work at hospitals or facilities you’re already familiar with, minimizing the need for extensive orientation and adjustment periods.
Income Potential: Hourly rates are usually higher than staff nurses, but overall income may vary based on available shifts and how often you choose to work.

Travel Nursing
Adventure Awaits: Travel nurses relocate for temporary assignments across the country, typically for 13-week contracts.
Expanded Horizons: Experience diverse healthcare settings, patient populations, and geographical locations while broadening your professional skills.
Higher Earning Potential: Travel nurses often earn significantly more than staff nurses, including tax-free stipends for housing and living expenses.
The Road Less Traveled: Adapting to new environments, healthcare systems, and teams is part of the adventure, requiring adaptability and resilience.

Deciding Factors: Which Path Is Right For You?
Consider these questions to guide your decision:
How much flexibility do you desire? Per diem offers the highest level of flexibility, while travel nursing requires commitment to specific assignments and locations.
Are you ready for adventure and change? Travel nursing involves relocating and adapting to new environments and colleagues.
What are your financial goals? Travel nurses often receive higher compensation and generous benefits packages.
How comfortable are you with the unknown? If you enjoy familiarity and routine, per diem might be a better fit.

The Best of Both Worlds: A Hybrid Approach
Don’t feel limited to just one option! Some nurses successfully combine per diem and travel nursing to create a work-life balance that suits their individual needs. You could take shorter travel nursing contracts or supplement your travel assignments with local per diem shifts during time off.

It’s Your Journey to Design
Ultimately, the best choice depends on your personal goals, lifestyle preferences, and career aspirations. By carefully considering the pros and cons of per diem vs. travel nursing, you can make an empowered decision that aligns with your vision for your nursing career.

If you aren’t already heading to your next assignment, let’s chat! 😊

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