Can Nurse Leaders Be Gig Workers?

Jessica Guzzetti, MBA, BSN, RN, CCHP-RN | Updated/Verified: Oct 9, 2023

Nurses and nurse leaders want to work "gigs." Sometimes, it's money the desire to try something new, and other times, it's being unfulfilled at your full-time job and looking for more. If you're a nurse leader, chances are you are already trying to figure out how to make it all work, keep going, and do it all – family, friends, kids, career, hobbies (what are those?!), and self-care.

How Can You Possibly Take On One More Thing?

It's been a long haul between long-standing pre-pandemic struggles, COVID-19, and the industry’s continuously evolving workplace, culture, and climate.

The cost of living is on the rise, and so is burnout. Some nurses may be grasping at gigs to renew their passion or validate their loyalty to what they do. Employers can make it near impossible due to having salaried leaders and still working shifts, covering down, and wearing multiple hats at once – resulting in tons of hours worked, which translates to mental fatigue and physical exhaustion. Others may take it one step further and tell you that you will not be able to perform another job or gig once you are in a leadership position due to needing to be constantly available 24/7, 365 (speaking from personal experience).

Yes – You CAN Be a Gig Worker

Gone are when our only option was a per diem nurse gig at a hospital or other care facility. One positive aspect of COVID is that nurses are more aware of the variety of opportunities available – patient and non-patient facing.

Nurses are even venturing outside of the industry and working non-nursing gigs.

You can be a nurse and find a side gig that works for your life, and you can be a nurse leader and do the same.

Things to consider when looking for a gig:

  • What is your goal? Are you looking to supplement your income, want a project or fun fund, or want to try something new or fill your cup differently? You may be inclined to work for less if you seek fulfillment rather than additional income. Be sure you know if you are guaranteed a certain amount of gig hours as some operate off of an on-call-only system, which is also primarily concise notice.
  • How will this affect your work-life balance? Are you already working overtime, mandated or voluntary? This may mean you have limited availability and can only dedicate minimal time to the gig. It's important to ask if there is a minimum expectation regarding hours or shifts worked per week/pay period, depending on the gig you are pursuing.
  • Will it be profitable? Even if your main reason for gig work isn't income, this is still a valid question. Consider whether you will spend drive time, fuel, and wear-and-tear on your vehicle or require additional equipment or supplies (scrubs, laptops, etc.). Is there an associated start-up cost? Are you making a profit, breaking even, or losing money?

Are you wondering how to learn more about gigs and where to start? Network with your peers, tap into social media (you would be surprised what you can learn on TikTok), and always keep your resume and LinkedIn profile updated. Scrub your calendar and schedule to ensure a complete overview of your life – work, personal, and anything in between. How much time do you truly have?

Set Boundaries for Yourself

Setting personal boundaries is essential; you should be prepared to do so with your gig. It should never interfere with your performance at your full-time job or your ability to rest and care for yourself. If you aren't stretching yourself thin or thinner, you are less likely to regret your decision and resent your gig. Many nurses don't last in per diem gigs due to becoming overwhelmed.

Less run-of-the-mill gigs worth looking into and educating yourself about include nurse educator for clinicals or even in didactic courses or skills labs, nurse writer (AHA!), home health, tutoring for nursing students, nurse blogging, nurse influencer, and telephone triage. Have you ever considered phlebotomy on your days off? Go forth and gig!


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