Have you ever stopped to think about how much your vocabulary has expanded since the time you decided to become a nurse? Symptoms and conditions alone lift the number into the thousands, and then you add on interventions and acronyms, drugs and their interactions, tests and procedures and the vocabulary associated with specialty areas and you’ve probably acquired well over 50,000 terms, and still adding new ones every day.
The one area where your education may have fallen short is in the vast array of descriptions and terminology you’ll find throughout your search for a new nursing position. Below, we’ve put together a helpful glossary to refer to anytime during your job search.
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A job that is described as a contract role is a temporary position in a specific area, department, or for a specific project for a defined period. A contract role can last for a few weeks to cover another employee’s vacation or short-term disability or it can be longer, but notably has an established start and end date. A contract nursing position will have predictable duties and responsibilities and will usually be paid on a salaried basis, though pay may be hourly. Some contract roles will also be offered with benefits.
A nurse who performs well in a contract role may be offered the opportunity to renew the contract either for the same position or for a different project or position. Contract roles can be offered by hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and specialty centers as well as by travel nursing agencies. This type of role allows you to tailor your work schedule to your personal life and availability.
A nursing job offered as a flex is usually either part-time or per diem, with varied schedules and hours and offering a high degree of control for the employee. They are frequently temporary or short-term, with no long-term commitment from either the employer or the nurse, and are frequently offered by hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare facilities as well as by staffing agencies to cover temporary shortages or specific projects. Nurses who work in flex positions will generally need to be able to adapt to different settings and work environments, as assignments can change. In some cases, a flex position will involve travel within the hospital system.
Flex positions are a great way to supplement your income in a way that doesn’t tie you to any one facility or schedule.
Nurses hired for internal float positions work in a single healthcare facility and are temporarily assigned to the units or departments where they are most needed. Hospitals hire nurses for internal float positions because they can be certain of the skill level and quality of care that will be provided in the face of staffing shortages, vacation and sick coverage, and surges in patient volume.
Nurses who work as internal floats will need to use a variety of skills depending upon the department they rotate through, so being adaptable is as important as having diverse abilities. These positions are a great opportunity to sharpen your skills, build experience, and assess your preference for different specialty areas.
Hospitals hire nurses for internal registry positions to cover shifts for permanent staff members who are absent due to illness, vacation, or personal leave. The ‘internal’ part of the job description is an indication that the employer is the healthcare facility rather than an agency. These positions are temporary or per diem, and generally do not guarantee a specific number of hours per week. Notably, a nurse hired for an internal registry position may be asked to work in different departments or units, so it is important to be adaptable and ready to deploy diverse skills with different teams.
Nurses who take on internal registry positions have the opportunity to gain experience in different specialty areas.
Internal travel nursing positions are offered on a temporary or per diem position. Like internal registry positions, nurses are asked to cover shifts for absent staff members for a particular facility rather than for an agency, but internal travel nurses’ duties specifically have them being assigned to departments, or even different facilities within the same organization, and therefore they must be able to quickly familiarize themselves with the routines, procedures, and equipment of different units.
A job described as a locum nursing position is a temporary assignment at a specific healthcare facility. The nurse is usually hired to hold the place of or fill in for staff members absent due to vacation, illness, or maternity leave. The assignments are short-term and can last anywhere from a few days to several months, depending upon the facility’s needs.
Locum nurses can be hired by hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare organizations. They can work as independent contractors or they can sign on for an agency. Locum positions require significant adaptability because nurses can be assigned to a range of departments or units, and offer the advantage of variety and flexibility.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities hire per diem nurses to work on an as-needed basis to address staff shortages, special projects, or high patient volumes. Nurses who take these positions are paid hourly and usually do not receive benefits. Though the positions do not have a pre-determined schedule or guaranteed number of hours, nurses hired per diem are generally able to indicate the hours when they are available.
Per diem positions offer great flexibility and the chance to earn additional income. They also offer the ability to establish valuable connections within a healthcare organization that can be leveraged for future career opportunities.
Another term sometimes used in place of per diem is Casual Contingent.
Permanent nursing positions are ongoing and stable. Whether hired for a full-time or part-time position, a nurse who accepts a permanent position can anticipate working for the organization indefinitely, with no end date to their employment contract. The positions generally come with a guaranteed number of hours, though the individual’s schedule may vary depending on the facility. Pay may be hourly or salaried, and full-time permanent employees generally receive benefits. and schedule.
Working as a permanent employee is a long-term commitment that comes with the advantage of becoming established as part of a team. Nurses who work in permanent positions optimize their opportunities for professional development and advancement into leadership positions.
A nursing job described as a registry position can be either a temporary or per diem role, either for a healthcare facility (in which case it can be referred to as an internal registry position) or with a staffing agency. No matter whether the employer is an agency or a healthcare organization, the role is generally short-term with no long-term commitment.
Registry nurse positions are similar to per diem positions: Nurses can usually indicate their availability and are used to cover for staff nurses who are out on sick leave or vacation. There is no guarantee of the number of hours or schedule, but have the benefit of offering flexibility, diverse work settings and experience, and the ability to expand your professional network.
Nursing positions classified as ‘staff’ are the same as permanent positions. They represent a commitment from both the nurse and the healthcare organization with no end date. Whether full-time or part-time, staff positions have a set number of hours working for a specific department and a specific role within the facility. Salary is agreed to and benefits are generally provided. A nurse in a staff position has a higher level of stability and job security and will be able to work as a permanent member of a team, establishing relationships with colleagues and taking advantage of professional development and career advancement opportunities.
Strike nurse positions are emergency staffing positions offered by healthcare facilities to temporarily fill nursing roles usually held by staff members who are out on strike. These short-term replacement positions only last for the duration of a strike, but are essential to the continuity of patient care and the continued operation of a healthcare facility. Nurses who take on strike nurse responsibilities should be nimble and adaptable so that they can take on diverse responsibilities. They also need to be aware that they may be asked to cross a picket line or be confronted by striking nurses.