Tips for Getting a Per Diem Nursing Job

If you’re a new nurse or looking to pick up some extra hours, you might consider per diem nursing jobs. Per diem nursing jobs can also be an excellent way to find out which facility is best for you if you’ve moved to a new city. Read on to learn more about what per diem nursing jobs are and what you’ll need to land one.

Smiling per diem nurse
Yerson Retamal from Pixabay

What Is a Per Diem Job?

“Per diem” is Latin for “per day” or “for each day” and means to be hired on a day to day basis. Hospitals and facilities use per diem nurses to cover staffing needs when there is a larger patient load than usual, allowing them to keep costs down by using nurses only when they are needed. As a per diem nurse, your hours vary week to week depending on your availability and how much work the facility or staffing agency needs. You can also work per diem to pick up extra money in addition to your full-time job or choose to work only on a per diem basis.

A per diem nurse typically works in a variety of units in more than one division in a hospital, and sometimes in a variety of hospitals or facilities. Others may work for per diem nursing agencies, which provide nurses for a range of facilities and might work a few days at one hospital, then a few days at another, depending on the needs. If you plan to work only per diem shifts, you should try to get employment at more than one agency or facility – this gives you better-negotiating power on shifts and wages and the ability to have a full-time workload.

Job & Education Requirements

To land a job as a per diem nurse, you’ll need your unrestricted nursing license and to have graduated from a nursing program. The requirements for per diem nurses are the same as regular nurses, and the licensure needed will depend on the type of units you’re looking to be placed in.

You may also need some experience that qualifies you for the unit you’ll be working in. Most hospitals prefer nurses with at least a couple of years experience as you will be expected to hit the ground running; however, occasionally you may find some per diem nursing positions don’t require as much experience, depending on the unit, as they are often needed due to staff shortages.

The Job Search

There are a few options when it comes to where to find per diem nursing jobs. If you’re looking for the occasional shift, you may find listings through your local job board. Another option is to go through one of the many nursing agencies. Many have a flexible online schedule manager and offer incentives you won’t find elsewhere. And unless you’ve signed a contract, you can sign on with more than one nursing agency.

Preparing Your Resume & Cover Letter

When you’re ready to start looking for per diem jobs, you’ll want to review or prepare your resume and cover letter. Make sure to list out your degrees, certifications, training, and any other experience you have obtained. This could include internships, course experience, or full-time or part-time positions you’ve had experience in. If you have a specialty in a particular unit, make sure to add that on your resume. You can use a template or draft your own, but be sure to include the following:


  • Contact information
  • Objective
  • Employment & internship history
  • Degrees & certificates
  • Clinical training information
  • License(s) information

Curriculum Vitae

  • Contact information
  • Employment & internship history
  • Degrees & certifications
  • Professional qualifications & awards
  • Published articles
  • Published (or presented) presentations
  • Association memberships
  • Professionals Interests

Once you’ve written up your resume, it’s time to put together your cover letter. This is a one to two paragraph letter that expresses your excitement about the company, working for them, and how the position is aligned with your career goals. Your resume is an excellent place to highlight accomplishments or employment history that align with the requirements in the listing.

Each hospital or staffing agency will have its own set of qualifications and experience level that they are looking for. As such, it’s best practice when writing your cover letter to be sure to modify it for each facility. End your cover letter by thanking the employer for their consideration, and be sure to express interest that you’re looking forward to the interview.

Man preparing cover letter
Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

Preparing for the Interview

It’s a good idea to brush over your interview skills before an interview and be prepared to discuss your past employment history and examples of the work you’ve done there, how you’ve dealt with difficult situations, and how you’ve worked with staff. Read through your resume and the job posting and be prepared to elaborate on your accomplishments and how your work history fits the needs of the position. If you can, get someone to help you with a practice interview. We’ve prepared an article on Nurse Practitioner Interview Questions and Answers, which are also relevant to per diem nursing jobs. Additionally, you’ll want to highlight how well you do integrating quickly into a new team and working in new situations, as is typical in per diem nursing jobs.


The salaries for per diem nurses can vary widely but typically ranges from $25-50 per hour. They often tend to make more than traditionally-employed nurses because the facilities don’t have to offer the same benefits to per diem nurses. If you’re considering becoming a per diem nurse to make some extra money, you don’t need to worry about the benefits; however, if you’re looking to become a per diem nurse to replace your full-time job, be sure to take into consideration the benefits you were receiving from your full-time position.

How to Apply for Per Diem Nursing Jobs

At Desert Medical Careers, we have years of connections and experience placing individuals looking for medical positions.

We receive numerous calls from healthcare facilities for per diem work. As the top medical job placement center in Phoenix, Arizona, we make it a top priority to place individuals in jobs that match their career goals. We review resumes, ensuring they match what the healthcare employers are looking for, and provide interview tips based on our experience placing thousands of people in per diem nursing positions.

If you’re looking to be placed in a per diem nursing position, contact Desert Medical Careers at (602) 468-6300 or fill out the form below to get contacted by a DMC expert.

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