PRN vs. Part-Time Healthcare Worker – What’s the Difference?

When it comes to nursing titles, it isn’t a one-size fits all. From PRNs, CNAsLPNs, RNs, and APRNs (to name a few), these titles are often used interchangeably and not based wholly on the highest level of education completed. For instance, to become a RN, you can take different paths. Both ADN (Associates Degree in Nursing) and BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) nurses perform the same roles and responsibilities. However, an ADN requires two years of college and a BSN takes four years.

Nurses work in a variety of different settings, including hospitals, schools, clinics, private homes, and assisted living facilities. In many other professions, the roles and responsibilities that come with job titles are somewhat predictable, but not so in the healthcare worker profession. Daily duties and responsibilities change and shift among the different settings. What a RN does in a school can be very different from what a RN does in a hospital. Depending on the size of the setting and the amount of staffing, some CNAs may do the work of a RN. In other settings, a RN may perform some of the tasks usually assigned to a CNA.

As if that’s not confusing enough, when you add in the many varied credentials and specialties earned within each nursing acronym, lines begin to blur even more. Combine that with part-time vs full-time healthcare positions, and things really start to become confusing. This article hopes to clear things up.

So what’s the difference between a PRN healthcare worker and part-time healthcare worker? First, PRN or pro re nata in Latin, means “as needed or as the situation arises” in English. Similar to a substitute teacher, a PRN healthcare nurse works only when called to fill a vacancy. This could be when a nurse calls in sick, takes a vacation day, or other special circumstances.

On the flip side, a part-time nursing job generally comes with a guaranteed number of hours that must be worked each week. Depending on the number of hours worked and the state where you live, a part-time healthcare worker may still be eligible for benefits.

Some nurses are drawn to part-time or per diem work over full-time nursing careers to create more flexibility in their lives. When more hours are needed, many nurses chose to pick up shift or per diem work to fill any financial gaps while others may decide to work two part-time jobs instead of one full-time job.

Whether you choose part-time, PRN, CNA, LPN or RN healthcare work, all have their pros and cons, but one thing remains consistent: all healthcare workers benefit their communities by providing care and support to the people who live there.

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