What are Nursing Agencies?

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  • Written By: Leanne Lytle
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 14 June 2019
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In the 1980s, the United States experienced a severe shortage of nurses. As a result, nursing agencies were founded to help supply nurses to distressed hospitals. Since the nursing shortage of the 1980s, countless privately owned nursing agencies have opened up throughout the country. There are, of course, nursing agencies in many other countries as well. Nursing agencies are similar to other staffing agencies in that they develop a listing of nurses and other healthcare professionals which is then used to match those individuals with facilities in need of support staffing.

Finding and joining nursing agencies is typically uncomplicated and straightforward. In fact, some nursing agencies, make their staffing needs completely accessible through the internet. In most cases, once a healthcare professional has joined an agency, he or she will be assigned an agent. This agent is then responsible for taking care of any needs pertaining to the professional's contract.

One of these needs, especially for those nurses that are placed outside of their current place of residence, is housing. New and seasoned nurses alike have started to seek out agency employment in order to experience different areas of the country, to be closer to loved ones, or just to mix things up. Agents either help find housing for these individuals or the agency provides a stipend for housing costs.


Nursing agencies also provide flexibility to nurses who are not able to commit to full-time staff positions. Individuals expecting transitions in their lives or those who simply want more freedom in their careers can take a temporary contract through an agency with no obligation to continue once the contract is fulfilled. Hospital staff nurses, on the other hand, do not have this option. Once hired, hospital nurses are obliged to attend fully to the expectations of their employer(s).

Not only do agencies provide flexibility, but they typically pay better than traditional staff nurse positions. They also often offer good benefits, and provide bonuses when a new professional is referred to their agency by an existing client.

Initially, there was some controversy regarding the usefulness of agency nurses in the professional environment. Studies have since found that there is no decrease in patient care or morale when agency nurses are hired to supplement staff nurses. In fact, the presence of agency nurses can improve both patient care and morale in hospitals with "fewer resources and lower permanent staffing".



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