Share this article

Per Diem RN Jobs

Daniel Bal, MS.Ed
Updated August 29, 2022
    Examine the pros and cons of per diem nursing, including the role it plays within the healthcare community and whether you should consider this career path.
    mini logo

    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Per diem nurses work on an as-needed basis. They can engage in various nursing specialties that increase their skill set and enjoy advantages like selecting when and where they work.

    This guide explores information on per diem registered nurse (RN) jobs, its pros and cons, and overviews top positions for professionals considering this option.

    What Is Per Diem Nursing?

    Per diem means “per day.” When working per diem RN jobs, nurses are hired on a temporary basis, which can range from a single day to seasonal coverage.

    Per diem nurses can work in a variety of facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. They may also determine their own hours since they choose which positions to accept, making the work more flexible and tailored to the nurse’s needs.

    It is beneficial to recognize the differences between a per diem nurse and those hired full time. Full-time nurses have a set schedule, while per diem nurses are essentially on call. Per diem nurses can choose where they work and what their role will be. They may also maintain employment by more than one employer, which provides them with a wider range of opportunities.

    Pros and Cons of Per Diem Nursing

    Working as a per diem nurse comes with pros and cons. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages can help nurses determine if the work is a suitable match.


    • check-circle


      When working per diem, nurses receive hourly pay rather than a yearly salary. While pay varies based on position and location, per diem nurses often earn a high hourly rate. They can also work as many shifts as they choose since they are not limited to one employer.
    • check-circle


      Choosing their own schedule allows per diem nurses to enjoy more career flexibility than a nurse employed through a hospital or other healthcare setting. If a per diem nurse needs to take time off, an employer’s policies do not limit them.
    • check-circle

      Diverse Work

      Per diem nurses can work in several specialties. Working in different specialties can improve their skills and help vary their routine. They may also select work at multiple facilities, which can also help change up a nurse’s everyday tasks.


    • x-circle


      Because per diem nurses do not technically work full time for a single healthcare facility, it is unlikely that their employers will provide health insurance.
    • x-circle

      Guarantee of Work/Hours

      While working per diem may include a flexible schedule, there is no guarantee of openings. Shifts can also be canceled at the last minute, or per diem nurses can be sent home early.
    • x-circle


      Having coworkers who can provide support or a facility that can offer resources can benefit a nurse’s professional growth. However, with per diem nursing, it’s difficult to establish a presence in one location or specialty. Without a consistent presence, it can be challenging to develop professional relationships.

    The Top Per Diem RN Jobs

    The following lists some of the most in-demand per diem RN opportunities, based on job posts and demand for similar temporary nursing positions.

    1. Per Diem ICU Nurse

    Per diem intensive care unit (ICU) nurses care for patients with life-threatening conditions. They primarily work in hospitals because of the critical status of their patients.

    Working in an ICU typically requires either a 12-hour day or night shift. Most hospitals try to avoid scheduling an ICU nurse over 36-40 hours a week because of the amount of stress created by the position.

    An ICU nurse does the following: monitor a patient’s progress for any changes, administer medications, and perform diagnostic or therapeutic procedures. They also evaluate lab work and vital signs, set up and monitor medical equipment, and maintain the patient’s records.

    2. Per Diem Medical-Surgical Nurse

    Per diem medical-surgical nurses care for patients preparing for or recovering from surgery. Healthcare professionals who work in the medical-surgical specialty hold the foundation for all other types of nursing.

    Nurses in this specialty usually work in hospitals, but employment is also available in outpatient/inpatient clinics and nursing homes. Typical shifts for a medical-surgical nurse last 12 hours.

    Working as a medical-surgical nurse carries a wide range of responsibilities. They administer medications, check vitals, update records, run blood tests, and operate equipment like intravenous and feeding tubes.

    3. Per Diem Operating Room Nurse

    Per diem operating room (OR) nurses, also known as perioperative nurses, care for patients before, during, and after surgeries and medical procedures. Nurses can work in three areas: pre-operative, intraoperative, and postoperative.

    OR nurses also work in operating rooms often on 12-hour shifts.

    Working as part of the surgical team, OR nurse responsibilities include:

    • check-circlePre-operative: Assessing a patient’s condition, preparing the operating room, and sterilizing equipment
    • check-circleIntraoperative: Positioning the patient, passing medical instruments to surgical staff, and evaluating patients’ vital signs
    • check-circlePostoperative: Communicating with patients, the surgical team, and family members about postoperative care

    4. Per Diem Emergency Room Nurse

    Per diem emergency room (ER) nurses treat patients with serious injuries. They perform medical treatments, monitor vital signs, document treatment plans, and interact with patients and their families.

    ER nurses can find employment in hospitals, rural and urban communities, teaching hospitals, and disaster settings. A shift for an emergency room nurse is generally 12 hours long, with nurses working three shifts per week.

    ER nurses can work in a variety of roles: trauma, triage, disaster response, flight, critical care transport, burn center, pediatrics, and geriatrics.

    5. Per Diem Telemetry Nurse

    Working as a per diem telemetry nurse typically involves treating patients with cardiovascular diseases. Telemetry nurses monitor patients’ heart conditions through electrocardiograms and other cardiac devices.

    Telemetry nurses work in hospitals and clinics where patients are usually in stable condition. They may work long hours in a fast-paced environment.

    Telemetry units are also being used in areas that study neurological issues.

    Per Diem Nursing Salary

    Since pay rates change by location and responsibility, it is difficult to track what per diem nurses earn on average. Typically, per diem nurses can expect to earn as much or more than their staff RN colleagues.

    Glassdoor shows that the hourly rates can range from $25-$50, with some exceptions paying up to $90 per hour as of August 2021. Nurses might earn higher rates based on their experience.


    To determine if a career as a per diem nurse is the right fit, it is important to weigh the benefits with the drawbacks. Thinking about the pros and cons can help determine if per diem work is the best move.

    Becoming a per diem nurse can increase a nurse’s options in the workplace. Overall, nurses considering per diem work must decide if this path aligns with their personal and professional goals.

    Related Pages

    Feature Image: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.