What is agency nursing and why it could be the perfect career move

An agency nurse has the same role as any other nursing professional. There is only one main difference. Rather than working full-time in one fixed location, you’re employed by an agency and work temporarily within different settings.

Are you looking for more information about what an agency nurse is, the benefits, and how to get started? We’ve outlined everything you need to know, including:

What is agency nursing?

As an agency nurse, your responsibilities are similar to those of permanently employed nurses. They’re carried out within the same settings, under various contracts of your choosing.

Agency nursing means you are, in essence, someone with the skills and experience to support any team within your specialism. This can even be at short notice. You’ll often be called on to provide care and support when others are absent. This can be due to sickness or staff shortfalls, or to alleviate pressure on services at busier times.

You can either work solely as an agency nurse or take up agency shifts in addition to a full-time role. You can also be registered with multiple agencies, for work opportunities from more than one provider.

How to become an agency nurse

If you want to become an agency nurse, you need to register with an agency and meet their requirements. This will typically involve having a certain level of experience. You also need to meet compliance requirements such as having an NMC pin, proof of qualifications, employment references, and more.

Below, we have gone into more detail on how to become an agency. Here’s what is typically involved when you choose to move into agency nursing.

Register with an agency

Registering with a nursing agency is essential when you are looking to start this type of contract work.

At Pulse, our entire registration process is conveniently carried out online. This includes your online interview, employment checks, and documentation upload. Every nurse we work with is assigned a dedicated point of contact to guide them through the process.

You can save your progress at any time during registration, so you don’t need to complete everything all at once. Find out more here.

Meet agency nurse requirements

The requirements you need for agency nursing work can differ from agency to agency. At Pulse, we usually look for:

  • Six to 12 months of experience in the setting you are applying to work in
  • Relevant clinical experience in the area you are applying for within the last 12 to 18 months (dependent on experience)
  • The ability to meet our Framework Compliance requirements

When it comes to our Framework Compliance requirements, these include:

  • Your NMC pin
  • Proof of qualifications
  • CV or work history back to your full-time education with all gaps over one month evidenced
  • Up-to-date employment references, including a minimum of two professional references covering a period of three years and any gaps of more than one month explained
  • A DBS and occupational health check
  • Right to work/trust ID check
  • Proof of professional indemnity insurance
  • Core skills training – CSTF alignment

At Pulse, we have the Framework Compliance to help get you up and running with all the formalities. You can find the full list of requirements here.

When registering with us, we’ll guide you through the entire compliance process. We’ll help you to get started so that you’re ready for agency work as soon as possible.

Speak with your recruitment specialist

Throughout the process of registering with a nursing agency, it’s important to spend time discussing your work preferences and career aspirations with your consultant.

At Pulse, you’ll have a dedicated recruitment specialist throughout the entirety of your journey with us. They’ll work with you to understand the type of work you’d like to undertake and what you’d prefer to avoid.

You’ll then be contacted with only the most relevant opportunities that fit your experience and future career goals. We also encourage you to let us know what we can do for you throughout your time with Pulse. That way, we can support you as much as possible while you focus on helping others.

Register with us

Register your interest and we will be in touch to discuss your work preferences.

What are the benefits of becoming an agency nurse?

There are a wide range of benefits to agency nursing. These include:

  • Flexibility
  • Greater control
  • Financial rewards
  • Variety

Flexibility and greater control

These are the main advantages for many agency nurses. You have greater control over when and where you work, along with how much work you carry out.

There are no expectations or obligations to commit yourself in any way. You can work anything from occasional ad hoc shifts to full-time hours. This means you can fit work into your life, around your other commitments, for a greater work-life balance.

Financial rewards

The financial benefits of agency nursing are also appealing. The rates of pay are often higher than in full-time nursing work.

You also have autonomy over the amount you earn. You can take on more work when you want additional income, or less when you feel comfortable doing so.


You get to enjoy variety too, which can quickly broaden your experience. You have the opportunity to gain experience in numerous settings within many different teams while meeting lots of new people.

For example, you can choose to work shifts at different hospitals or even combine NHS with private agency work.

Becoming an agency nurse with Pulse

Are you interested in becoming an agency nurse with Pulse?  

With us, you gain access to opportunities you won’t find at any other agency, with thousands of shifts always available. This is because we have approved supplier status with many NHS organisations and private healthcare firms.

Our agency nursing opportunities include flexible ad-hoc shifts up to full-time hours. We have roles covering all specialisms and settings, with competitive pay rates and escalated rates for many shifts.

Register your interest in agency nursing with us here, or browse our current nursing roles

Register with us

Register your interest and we will be in touch to discuss your work preferences.

Register today

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