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. The only difference is that, rather than working full-time in one fixed location, you are employed by an agency and work on a temporary basis within different settings.  

If you’re 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. 

What is agency nursing?

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

Being contracted in an agency role means you are, in essence, someone who has the skills and experience to support any team within your specialism, at short notice. You’ll often be called on to provide care and support when others are absent, whether that is due to sickness or staff shortfalls, or to help ensure patient safety by alleviating pressure on services at busier times. 

You can either work solely in agency nursing 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. 

What are the benefits of becoming an agency nurse?

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

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

You also have autonomy over the amount you earn, with the ability to take on more work when you want to bring in extra income, or less when you feel comfortable to. 


You get to enjoy variety too, which quickly broadens your experience. You have the opportunity to work across a range of settings, gaining experience in numerous environments 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.  

How do I become an agency nurse?

If you want to become an agency nurse, that’s exciting news. At Pulse, we’d like to help you get started. 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, with 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. We will guide you through the entire compliance process, helping you to get started and 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.  

At Pulse, you will have a dedicated recruitment specialist throughout the entirety of your journey with us, who will work with you to understand the type of work you’d like to undertake.  

This way, you’ll 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 so that we can support you as much as possible while you focus on helping others. 

Becoming an agency nurse with Pulse

Are you interested in becoming an agency nurse with Pulse? 

With us, you gain access to exclusive opportunities for growing an exciting career. We have approved supplier status with many NHS organisations and private healthcare firms. This means we can bring you roles you won’t find at any other agency, with thousands of shifts always available. 

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

As a leading UK agency, we have over 30 years of experience in the healthcare sector, so understand the importance of the work you do and the requirements of your role. Our longstanding presence in the healthcare sector means we have the experience and knowledge to help you thrive and exceed your career goals while enjoying the work you love. 

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

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