Part-time nurses fill gaps in schedules, cover when full-time nurses are on vacation and provide some flexibility for staff members. Some nurses may have job-share programs, and a group of them thereby all work together to fill a full-time position. Nurses work a wide variety of part-time schedules, and the number of hours they work vary significantly by employer.
The needs of a particular clinic, doctor's office or hospital dictate how many hours and schedule a part-time nurse will get. The types of patients, level of care provided, makeup and schedules of full-time staff and other factors play a role in determining how much a part-time nurse will work, and her schedule.
There are several perks to being a part-time nurse. Part-time nurses can have more time with their families than full-time nurses can. They can pursue other interests or jobs or go to school. Nurses who want to pursue higher nursing education have the option to work part-time when their schoolwork and clinicals become too hectic.
A job listed on FlexJobs.com in June 2011 for an outpatient urgent-care registered nurse called for working 10 to 20 hours per week. A staff RN position on the same site listed in the same month required working between 30 and 40 hours a week. This position was part-time. A licensed practical nurse position listed on the site in June 2011 required working 20 to 30 hours per week. Even within part-time positions, nurses may work more hours one week than they do in another.
The employer determines what part-time status actually is. State and federal governments do not decide what constitutes part-time or full-time. Thirty-two hours for one employer may be full-time; for another, 32 hours a week might be considered part-time. This determination also often affects benefits eligibility for part-time nurses. Nurses may need to work a minimum number of hours each week to participate in benefits programs such as health insurance.