The Ultimate Guide to PRN Shifts: Definition, Pros, and Cons

If you work in healthcare, you’ve probably heard the term “PRN” used to describe a type of work shift. But what exactly does PRN mean, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of working PRN? In this article, we’ll answer those questions and provide a comprehensive guide to PRN shifts.

What are PRN shifts?

PRN stands for “pro re nata,” which is Latin for “as the situation demands.” In healthcare, PRN shifts refer to a type of work schedule where the employee is not guaranteed a set number of hours or a regular work schedule. Instead, the employee is called in as needed to cover shifts that become available due to illness, vacation, or other reasons.

How do PRN shifts work?

PRN employees are typically hired on a part-time or per diem basis. They may be required to work a minimum number of hours per week or month, but they are not guaranteed a set schedule. Instead, they may be asked to work on short notice to fill in for other employees who are unable to work their scheduled shifts.

Pros of PRN shifts

There are several advantages to working PRN shifts:


One of the biggest advantages of PRN work is the flexibility it provides. PRN employees are often able to choose when they want to work, which can be especially helpful for those with other commitments or responsibilities outside of work.


Working PRN can also provide a lot of variety in terms of the types of patients and work settings you encounter. PRN employees may work in different departments or facilities, which can help them gain valuable experience and broaden their skillset.

Higher pay

PRN employees may also be paid a higher hourly rate than full-time employees. This is because they are not entitled to benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, or retirement benefits.

Cons of PRN shifts

While there are many advantages to working PRN shifts, there are also some drawbacks to consider:

Unpredictable schedule

Because PRN employees are not guaranteed a set schedule, their work hours can be unpredictable. This can make it difficult to plan other activities or commitments outside of work.

No benefits

As mentioned earlier, PRN employees are not entitled to benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, or retirement benefits. This can make it more difficult to manage expenses or plan for the future.

Limited job security

PRN employees may also have less job security than full-time employees. They may be the first to be let go during times of budget cuts or downsizing.

How to get a PRN job

If you’re interested in working PRN shifts, there are several steps you can take to find a job:

Research job openings

Check job boards and healthcare websites for PRN job openings in your area. You may also want to reach out to local staffing agencies that specialize in healthcare staffing.


Networking can also be an effective way to find PRN work. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with other healthcare professionals on LinkedIn.

Be flexible

When applying for PRN positions, be willing to work a variety of shifts and schedules. This can help you stand out from other applicants and increase your chances of getting hired.


PRN shifts can be a great option for healthcare professionals who value flexibility and variety in their work. However, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks, such as an unpredictable schedule and limited benefits. If you’re interested in working PRN, take the time to research job openings, network with other professionals, and be flexible in your scheduling preferences.

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