Need Extra Cash? Working PRN's a Pretty Good Gig

There are a lot of reasons I choose to work extra on occasion.  At some points in my career, working odd hours has left me with lonely weekday afternoons and little to fill my time.  So, why not make some extra money?  At other points, financial considerations like buying a house (and the essential associated decor) have left me craving a little extra cash.  Picking up a few PRN shifts here and there has been the perfect solution to these career and life situations.  How do you find the perfect PRN position?

Where Can You FInd a PRN Nurse Practitioner Position?

The easiest place I have found to accommodate my PRN needs are retail clinics.  Because these businesses have multiple locations in the same city, they are in constant need of NP coverage.  You can work almost any day you choose.  CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and other retail health systems typically keep a well-stocked staff of PRN nurse practitioners and physician assistants (depending on the state) to help cover vacation days and unplanned absences for their full-time employees.  Retail health positions are great for picking up some extra dough.  The patient acuity level is low making the job low stress.  

Working PRN in a retail clinic you may be able to sign up to work a few days a month in advance but can also fill last minute schedule gaps.  Sometimes, other nurse practitioners may simply want to leave work early allowing you to pick up just a few hours.  The beautiful thing about working PRN is there's no obligation.  You can say "yes" or "no" tailoring extra hours to your own schedule.  Most companies do want you to commit to picking up at least a couple days a month so you become proficient at using their systems.

While PRN NP positions are prevalent in retail medicine, many other clinics and hospitals like to keep a few PRN nurse practitioners on staff to offer full-time NP's some flexibility.  If you are interested in working PRN at a local clinic but don't see a job posting, contact them anyway.  Many employers are interested in having a PRN nurse practitioner but simply don't get around to looking for people to fill these positions. 

How Much Can You Make Working PRN?

PRN nurse practitioners are paid about the same as full-time NP's on an hourly basis.  Most retail health clinics pay about $40 to $50 per hour.  The main difference between PRN and full-time pay is that PRN NP's don't have benefits such as health insurance, 401K or CME allowance.  Some clinics pay PRN nurse practitioners a bit more per hour than full-time NP's to account for this difference. 

When Should You Stick With What You've Got?

Working extra shifts, even a few days a month isn't for everyone.  While you may be able to earn an extra $600 for picking up a single shift (12 hours x $50/hour), if you are burnt out in your regular full-time position, it's not worth it.  Even though working PRN is typically pretty low stress, employers don't expect quite the same from you as full-timer's, it's still work.  Be sure to evaluate your actual availability before committing to an additional position.

Can I Make a Complete Career Out of PRN Opportunities? 

I once had a genius idea.  I would find three PRN jobs, work three or four shifts a month at each creating the ultimate flexible schedule.  I would never have to work a Saturday again!  I did not follow through with my idea as I choose career stability over flexibility, but still may try it one day in the future.  The downside to having your income rely on PRN positions is that they aren't inherently stable.  If for some reason a clinic doesn't need you that month, you won't get on the schedule.  Most PRN NP positions do not outline a minimum number of hours in their contracts.  If you are single or your income is important to your family's lifestyle, relying heavily on PRN jobs can prove a bit stressful at times. 

Are There Any Downsides to Working PRN?

As with every job, there are a few drawbacks to picking up extra shifts.  First, no one wants to work weekends.  You will find with most PRN positions that a lot of employers are trying to fill weekend scheduling gaps.  While you can certainly say "no" to working Saturdays, at some clinics and hospitals these may make up the majority of extra shift openings.  If having your weekends remain free is important to you, ask about the type of shift the employer is looking to fill most often in your interview.  This will help you find a good fit for your extra-work needs. 

Secondly, burnout can creep in if you over commit.  Make sure you actually have the time and energy to pick up a few extra shifts before committing to an additional position.  You don't want your side job to negtively impact your career or family life.

Overall, working PRN's a pretty good deal.  It provides a flexible way to earn some extra cash without the commitment of a full or part-time position.

Do you work as a PRN nurse practitioner?  What are the positives and negatives of picking up extra shifts?

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