Agency versus Permanent Nursing

Di McArthur, RAN

For the past year I have intermittently worked as a Fly-In/Fly-Out (FIFO) Agency Registered Nurse in rural Australian health facilities, principally in the eastern states. Previously, I worked 26 years at the one site, 22 of those in the same position. Do I like my new career pathway change? You bet!

Primarily, I have control over my work/life balance. I can plan my life, making sure I don't miss out on special family/life events. While I am approaching retirement age (but am no-where near ready to retire!) this way of working allows me to continue working in a career I love, in a manner which suits me physically, mentally and socially. The work is exciting and stimulating.  I am challenged, learning new ways of doing old things and sense a new personal growth. I’ve had opportunities to expand my scope of practice and use these new skills daily.

I work hard, days fly by. I start and finish work on time; I know my shifts in advance. I work short contracts, from two to four weeks at a time, so can still maintain relationships and my garden at home. My husband enjoys the extra 'shed time' which is great for the romance!

I can work as little or as much as I need. The work sites are appreciative of the added 'pair of hands' and I try to leave something additional within a professional sense. In particular, I enjoy working with new graduates. The patients in rural sites appear to really appreciate having access to health care within their own communities.

I feel very supported by my agency (NAHRLS). The FIFO is organised by them. I need only focus on my own personal organisation with regard to the work placement. I thoroughly enjoy the travel experience and an essence of self-sufficiency while living and working in places in rural Australia. My eyes and ears are wide open as I move around the countryside and I'm constantly amazed at the variety of health care, geography, architecture, climate, lifestyle and art and music celebrations out and about. In short, my work is a great pleasure within a balanced life and I feel very privileged to have access to this opportunity, no kidding! On the downside: I am always hoping for 'the right sort' of pillow at my accommodation! Fussy aren't I?

Working at a single site for a number of years provided job security and stability at a time when this was a primary need. For those who are contemplating agency work, get out there and give it a go. Hey, you might even enjoy going to work!