Are you searching for the best nursing agency to work for?

Looking at how many nursing agencies are recruiting in the UK you would think nurses would have no trouble with finding an agency to join.

I wish it was as easy as deciding the location you want to work.  Then completing a quick Google search to find the best nursing agency to work for.

Finding a good agency takes a little more work. When I say ‘good agency’ I’m referring to agencies that offer regular work at the places you want to work and remaining professional at all times.

While I sit here on the sofa writing this article there’s three core questions that come to mind.

1. Does the agency offer you the right kind of work?
2. How will you get paid?
3. Is there any extra training and expenses?

Let’s look at the three questions in more detail because if your new to agency nursing it will help you avoid making mistakes that I made when starting out.

Seasoned agency nurses might not learn anything new, but at the very least the answers will reinforce what you already know.

#1 – Do they have enough of your kind of work?

I spent time talking to other agency nurse’s about issues they faced while joining agencies and a common problem that keeps coming up is transparency.

Transparency in the context of being honest with what work agencies can offer nurses.
Not a prediction of best case scenarios or wishful thinking of what they would like to offer you. (Happens often because agencies are always looking for more staff )

Make sure you make the right choices and decide to join the best nursing agency to work for yourself.  You can do this by reverse engineering your search for new nursing agencies.

What I mean by reverse engineer is completing the search back to front. Instead of searching on Google for your local agency then phoning them to find out what work they can offer you.

Contact the hospitals direct and speak to the team that organise cover for staff shortages then ask them what agency they contact first to cover shifts (Tier 1)

Sounds simple enough and it shouldn’t be too much hassle for you. The only barrier standing in your way is hospitals want to recruit for full time positions therefore might not be willing to give this information to you so easily.

Tier 1 agencies are the agency that holds the primary contract to supply staff to the hospital. Tier 2 will be other agencies that will only get shifts that the Tier 1 agency cannot cover.

You can see why it’s in your best interest to join the Tier 1 agency. Be persistent and creative to find this information out because like a said hospitals are not always forthcoming.

#2 – How will I get paid?

Nursing Agencys offer us a choice of how we want to receive our wages. Going through the agency pay as you earn (PAYE) is the easiest option and requires no extra effort.

Umbrella companies is another popular choice for nurses who want to join a couple of agencies. The idea being your wages will go through the same umbrella into your bank account. (Sounds good on paper but as I found out recently not always easy to find agencies that work with the same umbrella company).

Another option that is not always offered is direct payments to your limited company. Strictly for nurses working inside the IR35 arrangement (see HMRC tool).  Private healthcare work is accepted at least until the HMRC review this in 2020)

Agencies don’t always offer all three options so it’s worth finding out before you get too far in the joining process whether they offer your preferred option.

#3 – Is there any extra training and expenses?

Remember what I spoke about at the beginning of this article: Agencies are always looking for more staff. Let this thought empower you to ask questions and request support with expenses.

If your already working as a nurse then you will already know all about the mandatory training required of you to complete before your allowed to work on the wards.

The national health service provides most of its training in-house for free so if your coming straight from the NHS you can use the certificates as proof and not have to complete mandatory training again until the following year.

Mental health nurses must complete specialist restraint training and there’s over four types of this training used in the UK. Make sure your check what you need to be trained in before the interview stage. Same with general trained nurses as some agencies will expect specialist training before they allow you to work on the wards.

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