What Does "Per Diem Shifts" Mean?

by Khary Reynolds; Updated September 26, 2017
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If you are in the medical profession and looking for a flexible work schedule, a per diem shift can offer this to you. When working on per diem, you only get paid for the specific day that you work. Many medical professionals will pick up this kind of work to make extra money to supplement income earned from their full-time job. But some choose to only work these shifts.

How Per Diem Shifts Work

When a hospital has a high number of patients and a low number of staff members on a particular day, it uses per diem work to fill in the gaps. This allows the hospital to maintain patient needs without staffing more personnel than necessary. Generally the hospital will have a set number of per diem workers available to call whenever they are needed as last minute fill-ins.

Benefits of Working Per Diem

One of the best things about per diem work is that you can create your own schedule. In many cases you will tell the hospital what days you are available to work and they will call you if you are needed on those days. In addition to the flexibility, you will have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, from Intensive care units to psychiatric wards. This will allow you to avoid getting bogged down by tedious routines.

Drawbacks of Per Diem Work

One of the negative aspects of this type of work is that one week you may work all the days you are available and the next you won’t get a single call. This lack of stability makes it troublesome for those who need a steady income. Per diem workers also forfeit health benefits that are generally provided to others who have full-time employment. This can get expensive if you don’t already have an insurance policy from a spouse.

Staffing Agencies

To maintain a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of per diem work, many people choose to work through a staffing agency. This can allow the flexibility of daily work for those who need that type of schedule, and some companies offer the luxury of steady work because they work with a variety of hospitals.

About the Author

Khary Reynolds has been writing professionally since 2010. He has an extensive background in sales, marketing, business and real estate. Reynolds holds a master's degree in real estate from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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