What is a PRN nurse and how to become one? | promising nursing career in 2022

PRN nurse performs all the duties of a standard nurse but at the time of need only. PRN abbreviation is “pro re nata,” a Latin word meaning “as needed.”

A registered PRN nurse is a medical professional who works according to the need in a hospital, clinic, or healthcare agency. A PRN nurse works on-call, on a temporary basis, as a replacement for a regular nurse or to help the available nurse. 

As per the nature of the job, PRN nurses cannot work at the same place for their whole life. A PRN nurse’s duties change from day to day, like if they work in a specific hospital or healthcare department today, then maybe work in a different hospital the next day. They can work in the same hospital but continue to change departments according to the need. 

Depending on the assignment, the number of working days varies. For example, if a regular nurse is on maternity leave, then PRN is hired for weeks in the replacement, but if the regular nurse is sick, then PRN nurse is needed for a day or two only.

PRN jobs neither have the same routine nor the benefit of permanent full-time staff positions. However, PRN jobs allow a unique power to nurses that a regular full-time nurse does not have. 

How to become a PRN nurse?

The first thing that will rush in the mind while becoming a PRN nurse is how much education is needed. To become a PRN nurse, one should have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or any other related program. According to a study, 41.9% of registered PRN nurses have bachelor’s degrees, and 6.7% of registered nurses have master’s degrees. 

In addition to a degree, one should pass the National Certificate licensure exam to become a registered nurse. Once you become a registered nurse, you have to work one year as a nurse, and then you can transit to a PRN nurse. Depending on the area and hospital, some specialties of nurses are more desirable to local employers. 

A good PRN nurse should be flexible with timing and specialty because a PRN nurse is usually hired to replace a regular registered nurse. For a PRN nurse, the thing is not always the same as well as the hours and days are also not guaranteed.

PRN nurses should have the ability to change the sleeping schedules and adjust in every type of medical specialty or department.

How often do PRN nurses work?

The number of hours a PRN nurse will work in a week varies from zero to over forty. A regular registered nurse primarily works forty hours a week.

PRN nurses are hired temporarily in the replacement of a nurse. PRN nurses primarily work under an agency or maybe in a hospital where they have the power to choose the working hours and assignments of their choice. 

At some weeks, a PRN will find fewer to no opportunities for work, while on the other side, it may be overburdened with the outcome. PRN nurses often pick the shifts left open or unable to fill by the hospital nursing staff. Hence, PRN nurses ending up working on holidays, nights, and weekends.

Responsibilities of a PRN nurse

The primary role is to advocate and care for the patient and support them in illness during the absence of a regular registered nurse. However, there are many other responsibilities and roles of a PRN nurse, including:

  • Record the detailed history of the patient and signs of illness 
  • Collaborate with team to plan for the complete patient treatment procedure and care 
  • Advocate for the health and wellness of the patient 
  • Administered medication timely and updated the patient for further treatment 
  • Know how to operate medical equipment
  • Learn how to perform diagnostic tests 
  • Educate patient about the medical procedures and management of illness 
  • Give emotional support and advice to patients 

What is the average pay for a PRN nurse?

PRN nurse Salary

A PRN nurse will get more money than a full-time registered nurse. According to the report of self-reported salaries, the average salary of a PRN nurse is $42 because many agencies pay more hourly rates to nurses.

The average hourly pay of a PRN nurse is $37.17, which translates to $78,444 per year for full-time employment. 

Some agencies offer benefits like insurance and retirement plans for a PRN nurse who commits to works a specific number of shifts per week.

Some agencies will pay immediately as the PRN nurse completes the shift. Like agencies, some hospitals also offer packages to PRN nurses if they agree to do a certain number of shifts per week. 

Advantages of becoming a PRN nurse

Now when you know everything about PRN nurses and can decide whether it is an excellent opportunity for you or not, then it is the right time to tell you the power or advantages of a PRN nurse. Following are some mind-blowing advantages of being a PRN nurse.

  • Decide assignment of choice. A PRN nurse can say no to any assignment that doesn’t fit the schedule, or simply the PRN nurse does not want to do this. For example, if a PRN nurse plans to go out with a friend and is asked for a shift, he can say “no” to that shift and go out with friends. 
  • Can pick up seasonal work. PRN nurses have the opportunity to pick the seasonal work. Sometimes in a year, hospitals need more working staff, for example, in a pandemic or during a strike of nurses. During a pandemic or epidemic, hospitals need more working staff to handle the flood of patients, and it is an ample opportunity for PRN nurses to work and make money.
  • Higher pay. PRN nurses usually get more income per hour than regular registered nurses because PRN nurses don’t get benefits and don’t have scheduled hours to work. The hourly pay for PRN nurses is different in different states. 
  • Can make their schedule. PRN nurses can make their schedule; means they can decide whether they want to work every Monday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. They can manage their personal and professional life according to their preferences. 
  • Additional learning opportunities. PRN nurses have more learning and educational opportunities than regular registered nurses because they can switch from one specialty to another. For example, one PRN nurse is working in an emergency unit for one shift, and for the next shift, she has to work in the gynecology ward.
  • Ebb and flow work life. PRN nurses don’t have to work 40 hours a week. They can choose their working hours and make extra money; PRN nurses can overwork during the flu or holiday season. Work hard for a while, then take a break and again dive in. 
  • The license remains active after retirement. If you want your license active and your skills fresh, start working as a PRN nurse after retirement. It also helps to explore your hobbies and passion while working in different areas and specialties. 

Disadvantages of becoming a PRN nurse

Before becoming a PRN nurse, you should also be well aware of its downside. A PRN nurse should be called at the last minute and sent home in favor of staff nurses.

PRN nurses fulfill all the responsibilities of a registered nurse but don’t benefit from the government or agency. Moreover, PRN nurses have to enter various medical situations, each with different presentations and management.

What is PRN medication?

PRN medication meaning is the same as the PRN nurse. As a PRN nurse is hired when needed, PRN medication is also taken when required. Every medicine comes with specific instructions. Some medicine comes with the instruction to take daily, but others under a particular condition like fever, cold, constipation, and allergy. 

For example, a person has diabetes and takes insulin regularly. Still, the doctor advises him to check his weight regularly and if his weight crosses the scale, then take pills for obesity. In this situation, medication for obesity is PRN medication because it is administered only if needed. 

What is PRN order?

PRN order is a written order given by a registered medical practitioner for medication, treatment, and procedure. PRN order is given to a specific person according to the person’s clinical profile and particular signs and symptoms. PRN order is different for every patient according to their symptoms, resistance to medicines, age, gender, allergies, and many other criteria. 

Moreover, PRN protocol gives direction and instruction on how to administer the PRN medication. PRN protocol is necessary for PRN medication orders because the patient should know when to take the PRN medicines. PRN protocol also gives additional information about PRN orders. PRN protocol will include:

  • All the information about PRN orders and medication orders 
  • Specific signs and symptoms when PRN medication should be administered
  • Instructions on dosage 
  • Any special instruction like when to go to the hospital or call a nurse

Conclusion

The best part of becoming a PRN nurse is you can make the decisions. If you cannot work under a boss, want to pursue other passions, want to pay more attention to your family, or want to make more money, then becoming a PRN nurse is a good option for you. But if you wish for a regularly scheduled job with a fixed income, go for a regular registered nurse. PRN nurses can enjoy both their personal life and professional life. 

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