Agency Work: A Survival Guide


Scrub Nurses - over 1 year ago

If you’re a healthcare professional looking for career autonomy and the opportunity to receive greater financial rewards, look no further than agency work. Offering freedom from rigid rotas and the chance to dip your toes into unfamiliar settings, agency work is indeed an attractive option for today’s professionals.

While there are numerous benefits, this type of work can also be challenging, and it’s important you weigh up the pros and cons before you take the plunge into agency life. The MCM Medical team has genuine hands-on experience as agency workers, and we’ve pulled together some of our top insights on what you need to be aware of and how to effectively prepare.

It’s still a job

Preparation is key if you’re looking to become an agency worker. It might sound obvious, but you should approach it in the same way you would if you were applying for a permanent role. You’re still required to provide an up-to-date CV and references, and may well be called for an interview so that the recruitment agency has the opportunity to vet you.

How flexible are you willing to be?

Agency work can be extremely varied, and placements are often urgent. That’s why it’s vital for you to understand what type of work you want to take on right from the start. It can be difficult to know if you’ve only previously worked in one setting, but your agency should be able to guide you to decide which areas you’ll be most comfortable working in. You also need to think about how far you’ll be willing/able to travel too and let the agency know straight away.

Grow an extra layer of skin

It’s not that the permanent workers at a placement are going to give you a hard time, but remember that you’re typically on an assignment somewhere that’s understaffed and under-resourced where the staff are used to dealing with agency workers on a daily basis. As a result, staff will not always go out of their way to get to know you as you’ll be expected to get on with it. You need to have confidence in yourself and not to take this to heart. A good agency partner will understand this, so lean on them if you need advice or require a rant every now and again. MCM Medical understands; we’ve been there!

Get ready to ask A LOT of questions

Yes, we’ve just mentioned that the staff on your assignment want you to get on with it, but you won’t be expected to know exactly what you’re doing, where you’re going and where everything is kept as soon as you get there. Your career in healthcare so far will have taught you that communication is critical when you land in a new setting, and agency work is no different. Open up the dialogue right away if there’s anything you’re unsure about and make sure you voice any concerns to senior members of staff the same way you would in a permanent position. Your agency is on-hand if you’ve got any significant concerns about the placement of any aspects of it. 

Above all…

Agency work provides you with a golden opportunity to sample a wide range of different workplaces and departments so that if you do pursue a permanent position in the future, you’ll have a better idea of what really floats your boat.

For more tips and advice on all aspects of your healthcare career, stay tuned to the MCM Medical blog.