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Midwifery - Agency vs Staff

Midwifery - Agency vs Staff
Photo: Midwifery - Agency vs Staff
If you’re a midwife or a midwifery student, then you may be wondering if there are any advantages to being an agency midwife as compared to having a permanent job at a hospital.

If you’re employed as a midwife at a hospital, then you will know your hours, you’ll receive a regular pay check and you will have access to holiday pay.  You’ll also have some kind of set routine at work, although each day can bring its own challenges and rewards when you help mothers give birth.   As you will likely be working at the one hospital for an extended period of time, you will get to know your colleagues on a personal level which may well be of assistance whey ou need a sympathetic ear, and you will also become very familiar with your surroundings, and hospital procedures and systems.
Working for an agency can be completely different:  Working for an agency brings flexibility and a greater degree of independence, as well as a higher hourly rate of pay.  Agency nurses will typically work in multiple facilities and the duration of your work at any one facility may vary greatly.

Agency midwives need to be able to adapt to new facilities quickly and ‘hit the ground running’.  Because of this many agencies require their midwives to have a minimum of two years experience.   This is something for newly graduated midwives to keep in mind.

As well as nursing agencies that cater to every area of nursing including midwifery, there are also specialist midwifery agencies.  A specialist agency may cover employment in all areas of this subsection of nursing: labour wards, NICU, antenatal, postnatal and special care nursery.

Depending on the agency you sign up with, you may be able to pursue ‘travel-nursing’ opportunities.  This can be a great way to fund a working holiday.  You may even be able to get a short term contract at a hospital in your preferred destination, allowing you to work and explore a part of Australia, New Zealand or the world you’ve never seen before.  Depending on the type of contract you sign, you may even be able to receive subsidies on your accommodation.

Of course, to work as a midwife, whether it’s a permanent job or an agency job, you need to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

Some midwives work for a hospital first, so they can gain the necessary experience, and then after a few years, explore agency nursing.  If you love having variety in the workplace and enjoy meeting new people, then agency nursing may be for you.  On the other hand it may be harder to forge friendships with other midwives as you may not be in one job long enough to develop personal relationships.

In recent years, hospital networks and public health administrators have worked hard to reduce their reliance on agency nurses and midwives, as the hourly cost of agency staff is higher than employed staff.  This is a continuing trend as the health system comes under increased strain.  So the number agency nursing and midwifery opportunities may well reduce over time.


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