What is an On-Call Nurse?
On-call nurses are registered nurses that make themselves available to hospitals or other healthcare providers in case a need arises. During their shift, they are not actually at the facility but within earshot of their phone.
Once the phone rings, they are usually asked to come in and start working directly with patients. On-call nurses can be phoned at any time during their shift, even shortly before the end. It all depends on the needs of the hospital.
What do On-Call Nurses Do?
The main job of an on-call nurse is to be ready in case a need arises. On-call shifts can be scheduled at any time, including during normal working hours, at night, on weekends, during busy periods like flu season, or over the holidays. Even if an on-call nurse is scheduled overnight, they need to be able to answer their phone when it rings and then head to work as soon as possible.
As an on-call nurse, you cannot travel far away from your place of work during your shift, you need to remain sober, even if you are attending a celebration, and you have to be of sound mind and body.
Once they have been called in, on-call nurses do the same jobs that full-time nurses complete. They care for patients that are too ill to look after themselves.
Types and Specialties of On-Call Nurse Jobs
On-call medical staffing agencies employ on-call nurses across most nursing specialties and for general nursing as well. Specialist emergency room, intensive care, and surgery nurses can be in higher demand than others, but it is almost impossible to foresee where the need for an on-call nurse may arise.
In some healthcare facilities, full-time staff nurses are also expected to cover several on-call shifts. Combining both full-time and on-call work can be tough. However, choosing on-call nursing instead of a full-time position has a number of benefits.
Benefits of On-Call Positions
Choosing on-call nursing as your career path within the nursing field is a great way of developing professionally in a more flexible way. Because of the somewhat unpredictable nature of on-call nursing, most registered nurses who opt for those shifts earn a better hourly rate than their colleagues. That means you could be earning the same or a higher salary in less time.
On-call nursing can also offer opportunities to dip into a new field of nursing. If you have been thinking about transitioning from one specialty to another, temporary contracts like this allow you to try out a new area before making a full-time commitment.