Differences Between an Agency Nurse and a Staff Nurse

Registered nurses, licensed practice nurses, and certified nursing assistants can choose to work at facilities or on private duty cases through an agency.  When they work on-site for a company, they are responsible for 10+ residents simultaneously.  Alternatively, when they work at NursePartners, they can provide individualized care for older adults, unless they are contracted by a facility to fill in for staffing shortages on site.

According to a 2015 study it is estimated that there are over 2 million Americans who are home-bound. Is your loved among this group? NursePartners can help. We are a licensed home care agency that provides individualized and top-quality care for our clients. In this article, we highlight the differences between an agency nurse and a staff nurse so you can decide on the right care for your family member.

What is the Role of an Agency Nurse?

An agency nurse is a temporary healthcare professional who works on a contractual basis for home health agencies and other medical organizations. They provide the same services as regular full-time nurses however, they work on an as-needed basis rather than being permanently employed by a hospital, clinic or other healthcare facilities.

a nurse with an older patient

What is the Role of a Staff Nurse?

This is a full-time medical professional who works in a healthcare setting or facility. They work alongside members of the healthcare team to treat and manage patients’ conditions across age groups. Their responsibilities are usually outlined by their employer.

Agency Nurse vs Staff Nurse: What are the Differences?

An agency nurse and a staff nurse may perform many of the same tasks and require the same education and training, however, there are key differences between the two, such as:

Quality of Patient Care

While both agency and staff nurses can competently perform their duties and extend care, it is much easier for an agency nurse to provide individualized care to your loved one at home than for a staff nurse at a hospital who has to tend to a number of patients during their shifts. If there’s an unbalanced nurse-to-patient ratio it can lead to patients being neglected and becoming disgruntled. Moreover, it can cause further deterioration of patients’  health. 

When your loved one is under the care of an agency nurse, they are a top priority. The agency nurse will consider their concerns and preferences while taking the time to connect with them.

Work Setting

You will have to factor in location when you and your loved one are trying to determine what type of nurse is suitable. Staff nurses tend to their patients in a variety of healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Agency nurses also work in these settings, however, they are afforded more flexibility which allows them to also work in patients’ homes. They travel for work, so they may work at several locations for a short amount of time. In comparison, staff nurses consistently work at one location.


Nurses can specialize in anything.  At NursePartners, all staff shows a demonstrated working history in geriatric care.  We want to pair older adults with nurses who understand the complexities of aging, as well as some associated chronic and progressive diseases.  Private clients and facilities get the benefit of this experience when working with NursePartners.  


The nursing management at clinics and other healthcare facilities will determine the schedules every week with a set number of hours for their staff nurses. In comparison, agency nurses have the freedom to set their own schedules. 

Agency Nurses Available in Philadelphia, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties

Are you considering hiring an agency nurse to take care of your loved one at home? At NursePartners we will work with you to devise a comprehensive care plan for your relative. They of course will be treated with respect, consideration, and kindness. We also help healthcare providers to solve their staffing problems when members of their full-time staff are unable to perform their duties. Contact us today by calling 610.323.9800 for a free consultation. You may also complete our online contact form.

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