April 22, 2024

Your Guide to Navigating Gig Nursing

A gig nurse holding a clipboard and backpack smiles as she enters a new facility for her first nursing shift.

As the gig economy continues to gain traction across industries, nurses are embracing the flexibility and autonomy offered by gig nursing opportunities. Whether you're a seasoned nurse looking for a change of pace or a recent graduate exploring your options, navigating the world of gig nursing can feel like a brand new frontier. 

From understanding how platforms work to maximizing your marketability and success, this blog aims to provide valuable insights and strategies for thriving as a gig nurse. We’ll unlock tips for success and empower you to build a rewarding and fulfilling career on your terms.

How to increase your marketability as a gig nurse

For a gig nurse, marketability means more job opportunities. There are certain factors platforms and facilities look for in a successful gig nurse. Let’s explore some factors that can help increase your marketability:

  • Specialization: Consider gaining expertise in a specific nursing niche, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, critical care, or mental health, which can make you more desirable for certain gigs.
  • Certifications: Obtain additional nursing certifications relevant to your area of interest or the types of gigs you're targeting (e.g., ACLS, PALS, TNCC).
  • Flexibility: Demonstrate flexibility in your availability and willingness to take on different shifts, locations, or types of assignments.
  • Strong Communication Skills: Develop excellent communication skills to effectively interact with patients, families, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Positive References: Maintain positive relationships with previous employers and colleagues to secure strong references for future gigs.
  • Professionalism: Present yourself professionally in terms of appearance, demeanor, and conduct during gigs and interactions with clients and patients.
  • Continuing Education: Stay updated with the latest nursing practices, certifications, and technological advancements through ongoing education and training programs.

How to set yourself up for success with a shortened orientation

Completing orientation is usually the final step to working freely as a gig nurse at a facility. With a shortened orientation, you can focus on getting to work and have the freedom to pick up shifts when you want. Here are a few tips for making the most of your orientation:

  • Create a Cheat Sheet: Make yourself a quick reference guide with vital information like drip rate card, code color lookup, essential phone numbers, facility map, etc. 
  • Get to Know the Supply Room: Familiarize yourself with the supply room setup and make sure you know how to access supplies after hours.
  • Ask Good Questions: As you’re going about orientation, think about all the situations that may arise during a shift on your own. Ask questions that may come up so you’re prepared to face those scenarios when they arise.

How to make the best of each gig

Like so many things in life, gig nursing is often what you make of it. There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re making the most of each shift - for both yourself and the facility:

  • Embrace Facility Culture: Take time to observe and understand the facility's values, norms, and practices. Each healthcare facility has its own unique culture, and adapting to it can help you integrate more smoothly.
  • Lend a Hand: Be proactive in offering assistance and support to your fellow healthcare team members. This could involve helping with tasks outside of your primary responsibilities or stepping in to assist during busy periods or emergencies.
  • Make Connections: Be open to making connections with staff nurses and unit leadership. Networking not only helps you feel more connected and supported within the facility but also opens doors to potential future gigs, references, and professional growth opportunities.

Typical guidelines for staying 'active' on platforms and avoiding the setbacks of going 'inactive'

Most platforms have an expiration date on your access to shifts (typically a 60-90 day window). If you do not remain active, some platforms will make you start the application and onboarding process over. To ensure you avoid interruptions in your shift access, it’s a good idea to:

  • Know the Dates: Ask what the active window is for the platform.
  • Set Reminders: Use your phone and calendar to stay on top of important shift access dates.

Tips for staying on top of CEUs, certs and licensing

To maintain eligibility to practice as a nurse within your state and at different facilities within your specialty areas, it’s important to stay on top of all the requirements. The certifications you need may differ from facility to facility and unit to unit. It’s important to keep track of what needs updating and when. Here are a few ways you can maintain competence and eligibility to work:

  • Set Reminders: Use digital calendars, apps, or scheduling tools to set reminders for upcoming CEU deadlines, certification renewal dates, and license expiration dates.
  • Create a Tracking System: Maintain a spreadsheet or document where you track the CEUs you've completed, certifications you hold, and the status of your nursing license. Update this regularly to ensure accuracy.
  • Plan Ahead: Be proactive about completing CEUs and renewing certifications well in advance of their expiration dates. Allocate time in your schedule for education and training activities.
  • Utilize Online Resources: Take advantage of online platforms, webinars, and courses that offer CEUs and certification preparation materials. Many professional nursing organizations and healthcare institutions offer online learning opportunities.

Gig nursing may seem daunting at first, but a few tips and tricks can make navigating this new world feel much more manageable. From marketing yourself, to mastering orientation, to making the most of each gig, the road to becoming a successful gig nurse can be a fun and fulfilling process. By setting yourself up for success with the right knowledge, tools, and mindset before you step foot into a unit, you can be sure you are making the most of each opportunity and investing in your future as a healthcare professional. 

Learn more about how per diem nursing works and how to get started as a per diem nurse in our blog, Per Diem Nursing: A Gateway to Freedom.

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