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The role of an Agency Nurse

While most nurses work at a specific institution, agency nurses provide healthcare in various locations, such as patients’ homes, rehab centres and nursing homes. Agency nurses are employed by agencies who give them assignments which can either follow a fixed schedule or change on a daily basis.

How do I become an Agency Nurse?

As with any nursing roles in Ireland, to become an agency nurse you will need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). In order to do so you must obtain a Level 8 Honours Bachelors degree in nursing from one of the 13 Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that offer such courses (see list at

Applications for courses must be made through the Central Applications Office (CAO) and mature applicants are required to sit an assessment test run by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) on behalf of NMBI. Applicants must also complete a medical assessment, screening and vaccination programme. The CAO will offer places to mature applicants in July, all others in August.

Along with your studies you will be placed on clinical placements, which commence as early as three months into your first year. In your fourth year you will be sent on a 36 week placement or internship, which can sometimes offer a wage. Placements allow students to gain essential experience in such settings as intensive care units; accident and emergency departments; community health centres; coronary care units; operating theatres; and medical and surgical wards.

Upon graduating you will receive a Bachelor of Science (BSc), enabling you to apply for registration with the NMBI. It is illegal to practice nursing in Ireland without being on the NMBI’s Register of Nurses and Midwives. An annual retention fee of €100 must be paid to remain on the register.

Who you will work with

As with any nursing roles, the role of an agency nurse involves collaboration with other health care professionals. Depending on your level of experience, you may supervise and train newly recruited nurses and students. Agency nurses will have regular working relationships with:

• Agency Administrators
• Community Workers
• Doctors
• General Practitioners
• Home Helpers
• Paramedics
• Student Nurses

Key skills for Agency Nurses

The skills required for agency nurses are the same as those for any field of nursing, however due to the varied nature of the work, flexibility and adaptability are emphasised. To ensure patients receive a high quality of care and that your fellow health care professionals receive a high level of assistance, you must possess a range of intellectual, physical and emotional skills. Key skills required include:

• Multi-tasking proficiency is necessary to perform several duties while remaining focussed and organised
• Compassion and sensitivity to patients’ needs
• Ongoing assessment of patients’ developing conditions
• Ability to think critically and come up with solutions in high pressure and stressful situations
• Time management and punctuality are essential for agency nurses, who may have to visit several patients in various locations in a single day
• Communication skills that allow you to communicate effectively with both patients and fellow health care specialists
• An ability to balance professional objectivity with compassion
• Physical stamina to perform manual tasks and work long hours

Useful links: Health Services Executive Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland Nursing Services and Recruitment Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation Nurse on Call Ireland Nursing jobs in Ireland

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