Nursing can be an incredibly rewarding career choice for many people, but working those 12-hour shifts can be utterly exhausting.
This can play havoc with work-life balance and really affect time with family.
But is part-time nursing a good option for new grad nurses?
Can a new nurse work part-time? Yes, new nurses can get part-time or per diem nursing positions. It’s rare and might come with some stipulations but it’s not unheard of.
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Should You Work Part-Time as a New Nurse?
If someone asked me this question I would say “no,” I don’t think new nurses should work part-time.
There are a lot of reasons for this but I’m going to focus on two.
1. There’s A lot of On the Job Training Needed for New Nurses.
As a new nurse, there’s a lot that you just don’t know about.
You don’t become competent as a nurse just because you pass nursing school.
You become competent as a nurse by applying what you learned in nursing school in a real clinical setting and that requires some hand-holding.
Many seasoned nurses would say that it takes 1-2 years working full-time as a nurse to really start getting comfortable in your area.
2. You’re Going to Have a Hard Time Finding Part-Time Work as a New Grad Nurse
This goes hand in hand with the first point but facilities understand how long and how much it costs to train a new nurse.
I was told by one OR nurse manager that it would cost her over $50,000 to train a new nurse. Whether that’s an over-exaggeration or not I don’t know. But from just doing my own calculations it’s obvious training a new grad nurse is not cheap.
Because of that, facilities are not really going to want to invest that much time and resources to someone who is not invested in them full-time.
The other aspect of this is the safety aspect because new nurses until they become competent can be a liability.
So it makes sense that facilities would want you to work full-time to become more competent.
It’s also important to note that from what I’ve heard many times the facilities that will hire new nurses to part-time or per diem positions will make them work their orientation period in full-time hours.
So you should really keep that in mind if you do find a part time nursing job.
Why Do You Want to Work Part-Time as a New Nurse?
Everybody’s circumstances are different, but as someone who has worked part-time and per-diem nursing jobs, I do understand that there are some pros and cons to working part-time as a nurse.
Pros and Cons of Working Part-Time as a Nurse
The Pros of Part-Time Nursing
1. Better Life Balance
Nursing can be very rewarding, but it can also be completely exhausting.
Nurses who work three shifts per week, for example, will usually find that those 12-hour shifts turn into 14-hour shifts.
This destroys their social life and leaves them very little time for family since they tend to be exhausted for the rest of the week.
Part-time nursing provides for a much better work-life balance and allows any nurse to maintain an active social life.
It’s also valuable for nurses who have a young family and need the extra working flexibility.
An improved work-life balance is essential to both physical and mental health and well-being (source).
Research also supports the fact that working fewer hours can make a person more productive and happier when they do work.
Studies have also confirmed that regular night shift work reduces the amount of serotonin in the body and causes significant long-term health risks and fatigue (source).
Part-time nursing mitigates many of these risks.
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You can search for part-time new nurse positions on our nurse job board.
2. Make More of Your Career
Sometimes, nursing can be so draining that it generates some serious questions: Am I right for this career? Do I really want to continue as a nurse?
Switching to part-time nursing allows a person to seriously consider their career future without losing touch with their professional nursing career.
It effectively frees up their mind to consider other options, such as further study in other areas.
The Cons of Part-Time Nursing
It may seem quite obvious that part-time nursing has plenty of advantages, but it’s not all smooth sailing.
Here are some of the cons of working part-time as a nurse that should be carefully considered in the context of personal career and family:
1. Lack of Benefits
Full-time workers usually gain benefits from their employers, such as health insurance.
These benefits may not be available to part-time nurses, so the pro of having more time with family needs to be weighed against the lack of some benefits.
2. Less Income
One of the obvious disadvantages of working part-time is that there is simply less income.
Nurses may even find that they are paid less money per hour when they switch to part-time work.
If you’re seriously thinking of working part-time, you need to make an assessment of your household income and what less nursing income will mean in the future.
3. Career Limitations
If you have ambitions to advance your career as a nurse and move into other specialist areas, working part-time hours may not be the best move.
There is a stigma attached to part-time workers, which may affect the perceptions of management and colleagues.
This may result in fewer opportunities for career advancement.
Nursing can be a very rewarding career, but full-time hours are not suitable for everyone.
It can be demanding and very exhausting.
By working part-time as a new nurse, you do gain significant lifestyle benefits, such as a much improved work-life balance, but these must be weighed carefully against the disadvantages.
If you’d like to search for available nursing jobs in your area, check out our nurse job board.