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Nursing Agencies: Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them

Nursing agencies have a tremendous impact on the way the healthcare labor market works. And it’s safe to say this industry isn’t going away anytime soon.  But, is it surprising?  Wherever there’s a demand, there’s a supply. The main reason nursing agencies are a big part of today’s healthcare labor market landscape is that hospitals, nursing homes, retirement homes, and other healthcare institutions like the benefits of using them. 

Basically, this industry is another form of outsourcing, and we all know how much contemporary businesses like to outsource. As a matter of fact, this form of outsourcing is centered on the process of recruitment and hiring. Moreover, nursing agencies place millions of people in jobs every year. Some of these jobs are permanent, but most are temporary. 

So, it’s no surprise that some people see nursing agencies as invaluable to job seekers and healthcare institutions. But, it depends on whom you talk to. Because a lot of people see the negative aspects of dealing with nursing agencies. Both sides of the argument have valid points. But, either way, this industry has a definite role to play.

The entire healthcare labor market is covered by this industry, and it caters to just about every profession or occupation. So naturally, there are different types of nursing agencies — also called healthcare staffing agencies, nursing temp agencies, healthcare recruitment agencies, or nurse placement agencies. Some provide nurses and caregivers on a day-by-day basis, while others provide nurses and caregivers for longer periods, such as months and even years.

Types of Nursing Agencies

What are the Types of Nursing Agencies?

  • Healthcare staffing agencies
  • Nursing temp agencies
  • Healthcare recruitment agencies
  • Nurse placement agencies
  • Nursing staffing agencies
  • Nursing home staffing agencies
Nursing Agencies: Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them

Another type of nursing agency fills permanent positions for high-level executive jobs.  In addition, nursing agencies can be categorized by the line of work. Some cover a range of jobs, while others are niche-oriented. So, a jobseeker’s experience with this industry may have a lot to do with how they fit into the healthcare labor market. The person’s level of experience, their field of work, and the demand for jobs in that field are all factors that come into play.

There are some common factors with all types of nursing agencies. But, the most important thing to realize is that nursing agencies are in business to make money. And, since it’s usually the healthcare institution that pays them, their interest is in satisfying the client. It boils down to good business practices on their part. 

Nursing Agencies for Job Seekers

The job seeker, however, is more like inventory for when the healthcare institution comes looking for a nurse or a caregiver to fill a position. Whether that position is permanent or temporary, the field of work determines the type of nursing agency the healthcare institution will sign up with.  The reason institutions use nursing agencies is to alleviate the hiring process. It can be a significant expenditure for any business. 

The advantage is usually less in favor of the job seeker, but the job seeker often has to deal with these agencies to find work. Here’s an example of a common scenario. A qualified jobseeker responds to a job advertisement posted by a nursing agency and is placed with a healthcare institution. She does the same work as the permanent employees of the healthcare institution, but it’s likely that she feels less secure in her job than they do. She might not be entitled to any of the company’s benefits that permanent employees receive, because she’s technically an employee of the nursing agency. Even though her professional practice and conduct are excellent, she might not have enough hours of work, and job security.

job seeker

In this scenario, the healthcare institution has the advantage, and the nursing agency is paid for filling the position, which is how they make money. But, although she might be concerned with the fact that the nursing agency makes money by placing her, the jobseeker is glad to be employed and earning good pay. And, sometimes this scenario can foster a greater advantage for the job seeker. Considering an outstanding level of her knowledge, skills, and conduct, the healthcare institution may offer her permanent employment with all the perks and benefits that come with it. 

Things to Consider

But, even this can be seen as another advantage for the healthcare institution. The company was able to test drive an employee for a period of time without any commitment to that employee. It’s not unlike the probationary period most companies have for new employees, except it can be considerably longer. So, by the time a permanent position is offered, the employer is absolutely sure it’s the right move.

Another disadvantage for the job seeker is the selection process of the recruitment agencies, particularly when jobs are hard to come by. It’s clear that a high percentage of job advertisements are posted by nursing placement agencies. And, a single posting can draw hundreds of resumes. But, the vast majority of these resumes won’t elicit a response from the nursing agencies. This isn’t done on purpose. The human resources specialists at these nursing agencies are busy people. They don’t have time to acknowledge everyone who applied. Instead, they focus on a few potential candidates for each position. 

It becomes a problem of oversupply, and this can leave many qualified nurses and caregivers feeling frustrated and discouraged.  Meeting the requirements of the job posting and having the right keywords in resumes and cover letters don’t guarantee the selection of a potential candidate.  So, a good strategy for job seekers is to research nursing agencies with the most postings for jobs in the desired field. Then, apply or register with one or two of them. This way, the jobseeker can focus on building rapport with the selected nursing agencies.

Labor Market for Nurses

Today, healthcare labor market trends are heavily influenced by nursing agencies.  It wasn’t too long ago that the healthcare labor market was abuzz with concepts like “retraining”, “second career”, “transferable skills”, “versatile workforce”, and so on. In fact, these concepts are still very much alive, but they seem to have been negated by the nursing agencies. The reality is that these agencies look for the best candidates for their clients. So, the potential candidates for open positions are usually chosen from among the applicants with the most experience and expertise.    


What that means is nursing agencies are not the best place for a job seeker that recently completed training. If the job seeker is trying to enter a new career or achieve a higher level in the same field, she should think twice about her situation when considering applying or registering with a nursing agency. One of the first things she should do is find out if her training provider has a working relationship with a nursing agency, and how she can take advantage of that opportunity.

It’s also a good idea for her to explore other methods of job searching. Although many businesses do not support it these days, cold calling is still a viable option. One can do that by phone or by dropping off a resume in person. Job fairs are a great way to make direct contact with employers. Networking is another option that can be very productive if done right. Some people see networking as a modern name for the combination of nepotism and favoritism.  Maybe because the same adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” applies to all three. 

Wrapping Up

The job seeker shouldn’t overlook the self-employment option either, but it depends on things like skillset, field of work, experience, and access to resources. It also takes someone with an entrepreneurial mindset to start up and sustain a business. So, this option isn’t going to work for most job seekers. But, it’s one some will find worth putting time and energy into, particularly if nursing agencies and other job search methods aren’t fruitful.

So, there’s a relativity cozy relationship between nursing agencies and healthcare institutions. The nursing agencies are the gatekeepers, and job seekers often have little choice but to go through them to find work. But, when the gatekeeper becomes a closed door, it’s time for the jobseeker to find a way around to the treasures that lie beyond. For most job seekers that treasure simply amounts to bread and butter.

If you are looking for a Nursing Staffing Agency in Brampton, our healthcare professionals can help.

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