The Pros and Cons of Being a PRN Occupational Therapist

PRN occupational therapy: There is a lot to say about it, and because I’ve been a PRN (or per diem) occupational therapist for over seven years now, I really wanted to share my personal PRN OT experiences (the good AND the bad). 

In this article, I cover both the pros and cons of working as a PRN occupational therapist. This will help you decide if going PRN the right career move for you. This pros/cons list is applicable whether you’re a new grad or a full-time OT or COTA with experience.

But first, what does being PRN even mean?

Derived from the Latin phrase “pro re nata,” PRN stands for “when necessary,” as circumstances require, or as needed (MedicineNet). This definition sums it up perfectly for occupational therapy, as a PRN OT practitioner is hired to work as much as the facility needs. I want to add that this can equate to just part-time hours or regular full-time hours depending on your facility’s needs.

The Pros of Being a PRN Occupational Therapist

Increased Pay

PRN hourly rates are considerably higher than the same full-time OT position due to the lack of benefits and PTO that the facility does not have to cover for PRN therapists.

For example, where I live (Atlanta, GA) an average hospital hourly rate for full-time new graduates is around $29-31. The PRN rate ranges by hospital from around $45-50 an hour, whether or not you’re a new grad.

Before starting my PRN position, I did the math of what I would be covering myself with benefits, lack of PTO, etc. and the numbers still worked out quite a bit better for me with the higher PRN hourly rate.

Another thing to take note of is that hospitals oftentimes pay their full-time OTs a salary (averaging the $30/hour for a 40-hour workweek). However, as many OTs can attest, salaried therapists are often working more than their scheduled 40 hours a week and may not be getting paid for the extra time.

PRN therapists, however, almost always clock in hourly, so any extra time they put in is actually paid for by the facility.

For more in-depth data on the pay differences of full-time and PRN OT, be sure to check out our article covering OT/COTA Salary Data from 2,322 Therapists here.


Amazing Flexibility

The flexibility of working when you want and taking off when you want is my favorite aspect of working PRN.

PRN positions typically have some weekend and holiday requirements, but you are not required to work a set schedule or set number of hours. If working five days a week becomes too physically and mentally exhausting, you are under no contractual obligation to work the traditional M-F schedule.

If you want to take a month or more to travel the world, you can! Want to work 3 days a week based on childcare schedules? You can do that too!

Alternatively, if you do want to work five days a week like a full-time OT, you can do that as well (as long as your employer has PRN positions that have those available hours). I’ve now worked at two different hospitals in different states in acute care that almost always have full-time hours available for their PRNs.

Working PRN also means no vacation/PTO requests, no two-week vacation limits, no trying to scramble to find other therapists to cover your caseload if you need off. Each week you are able to choose whichever days you want to work or don’t want to work.

Being PRN Offers a Good Change of Pace

If you have several PRN positions (which I recommend for consistency of hours), you can work in one setting one day and switch it up to another setting another day. It’s a great way to break up the week versus doing the same routine over and over.

I also enjoy having two sets of work friends (my acute care friends and my inpatient rehab friends) and two different settings mean I’m also learning more than if I worked in just one setting. Working in multiple settings with different people can also lead you to helpful networking opportunities.

Better Work/Life Balance

With the above mentioned flexibility and variety of PRN life, you have so much more control over your overall work/life balance and quality of life. When you have a lot going on in your personal life or you just need a break, you can scale your hours back as much as you need to reduce stress and any feelings of burnout.

And when you have more mental and physical energy to rack up the hours to save for whatever, you can do that too.

Want to take extended time off to travel the world like I did in 2018/2019? You can do that too! All you have to do is make sure you meet the minimum job requirements, and off you go!

Less Workplace Drama and Politics

When you’re PRN, you can just come in, do your job, and leave, without having to get sucked into any conflicts or drama that may be occurring. OT can be stressful enough without the workplace politics, so being able to avoid this is great to reduce work stress levels.


You Can Work More than 40 Hours

If you just have one full-time job, you’re generally stuck with the standard 40-hour workweek. If you pick up a second (PRN) job, or you have multiple PRN jobs, you can choose to work an extra 6th day or even 7th day (I personally don’t recommend this though!) if you’re saving up for something big or taking time off to travel for extended periods.

This is because you will not be hitting the 40 hour overtime requirements if you’re working at two different facilities.


The Cons of Being a PRN Occupational Therapist

The Lack of Benefits

As I mentioned in the Pros section, the significantly higher hourly rate that PRNs get is due to the lack of health insurance, PTO, and retirement benefits. For many therapists, having these benefits is extremely important and worth it to have a full-time position.

Paying for your own private health insurance is getting increasingly more expensive, and taking vacations without getting PTO takes a lot of pre-planning and saving up. 

It can also be really easy to forget to stash savings for retirement if you don’t have a 401k, so you’ll need to do some extra financial planning on this end, as well.

The most important point is to make sure you do the math for your own financial situation. Questions to consider: What is the difference in pay for full-time vs. PRN? How many hours do you anticipate working? What is the approximate monthly value in dollars for the benefits you would receive if you were full-time? If you were PRN, how much would you pay for health insurance? Which option truly has the higher payout on a monthly basis?

Inconsistent Hours

When you’re a full-time occupational therapist or COTA, you don’t ever need to worry if you’re going to have work each week.

If you’re PRN, this is a different story. PRN therapists are only used when needed, and they’re more expensive. If census is low or if the full-time therapists are able to cover the caseload, you won’t be used. If you only have one PRN job and you aren’t needed, you won’t be able to work.

PRN therapists are also the first to get sent home early if caseloads fall apart.

This is why I recommend if you’re going to work strictly PRN and want full time hours, you should consider having two PRN jobs so that you will have options every week. With two PRN positions, I personally don’t have an issue with getting enough hours.

Note: If you want to stay at just one facility, offering to float to their other settings/locations will also help you with hours (i.e., floating to inpatient or outpatient if you’re in acute, etc.)


Challenges Building Relationships with Patients

When you’re a full-time OT, you will likely have a consistent caseload of patients that you are able to see from the beginning of their rehab journey all the way to the end.

Working full time, you’re able to get to know each person and build a relationship while helping them achieve their goals. There is nothing more special than helping people with their rehab journey and celebrating each milestone as things progress.

When you’re PRN and working all over the place, you don’t usually get this benefit and may only work with a patient once. If you’re missing this aspect, pick up multiple days in a row in one setting like inpatient rehab or subacute rehab. You’re more likely to work with patients more than once and can see some of that progress.

Less Mentoring for New Grads

PRN occupational therapists, like travel therapists, are hired to hit the ground running. They’re hired to fill urgent staffing needs, and since they’re also more expensive, facilities usually don’t like to take up a lot of time and resources to train them.

If you’re a new grad and get hired as a PRN occupational therapist, you may find that you’re not given the proper mentorship that a you would get if you were hired full-time.

This certainly varies depending on the facility and whether you’ll be around other therapists. From personal experience, I would not recommend getting a PRN job in a setting where you are the only OT or where you will be alone frequently. Remember to ask during the interview/hiring process how much actual training and mentoring you’ll get.

PRNs Sometimes Get the “Short End of the Stick”

Since PRN therapists usually don’t get to make their own schedules, they can be given “less desirable” caseloads with challenging patients that the full-time therapists don’t want to work with.

I won’t go too much into this because I’m sure many facilities are wonderful and wouldn’t selectively choose difficult patients to load onto the PRN therapists, but I will say that it can and does happen from time to time. Thankfully, you may only work with these patients one time or have one really physical day that you rest and recover from the next day, if you’re off or have a different caseload.


And there you have the biggest pros and cons of being a PRN occupational therapist! I hope this gives you a beginning idea of whether or not PRN occupational therapy is right for you.

If you’re already a PRN occupational therapist or PRN COTA, what pros or cons would you add to this list? Please share them in the comments!

This post was originally published on February 24, 2018 and last updated on June 8, 2023.

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  • Anthony February 26, 2018   Reply →

    This is a great overview on what A PRN OT/COTA will face much of the time! Having worked PRN for years, I’d say you can better avoid politics but not always! Sometimes you can get a PRN assignment that lasts 1-3 weeks, giving them plenty of time to drag you in. Been there, done that!

    Don’t be shy about it! The regular staff will OFTEN dump the worst patients on you, saying they get paid a lot, let em ‘earn’ it!

    Just thoughts from a Cali COTA.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L February 27, 2018   Reply →

      Thanks so much for sharing your insight and personal experiences!

      • Amy February 12, 2021   Reply →

        Hi Sarah,
        Is OT PRN a 1099 position or is it still W-2 where social security and worker’s comp etc get taken out? Is it mor elike being a substitute teacher or contracted laborer? Thank you!

        • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L February 14, 2021   Reply →

          Hi Amy, every PRN position I’ve seen the last several years you’re employed by the company so you’d get social security/Medicare taken out, worker’s comp benefits, and a W2 (just no other benefits typically).

  • Alexandra Myers February 27, 2018   Reply →

    I will graduate in May and have been trying to weigh the pros and cons of PRN myself, so thank you for this post! It was very timely and helpful! What are your thoughts on working part time and PRN as a new grad?

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L February 27, 2018   Reply →

      I’m glad you found it helpful! I started PRN as a new grad and my biggest recommendation is to make sure you have other OTs around. It can be a big challenge to be PRN as a new grad so I would say make sure you have a good support system at the workplace. If you have that then I would say go for it!

  • Melissa March 2, 2018   Reply →

    Great overview! I work multiple positions PRN and contract work for years now! All the pros are point on! One hard thing is to juggle sometimes to stay busy- my family thinks I’m nuts lol but I love the flexibility and learning!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L March 3, 2018   Reply →

      I couldn’t agree more! The flexibility is what’s going to keep me a PRN “lifer”, personally 🙂

    • Kristin August 30, 2019   Reply →

      I have been a PRN therapist for almost 9 years at the same place. There were times where we were low for many months so I was cancelled a lot resulting in me finding another two day a week job at a clinic. And then one day a week at my prn job. Now their census has been up for several months and they want me to work more so I fill in some hours when I can.

      And you are definitely accurate with the pros and cons. For me i have retirement through my prn job which is nice and insurance through my husband. So i definitely like the pros of it now that things are more consistent since I have another 2 day a week job.

      If a prn job stated you are going to be required to work two full days or have to quit is that allowed?

      • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L September 2, 2019   Reply →

        Each PRN job will have different requirements to ensure the PRN therapists are actually picking up shifts, so they might require one weekend a month, three weekend days a quarter, or even a few days a week if they’re looking for steady help. It definitely just depends on the facility so be sure to ask before accepting the position to make sure the job will be a good fit and not have too many requirements if you’re looking for more flexibility.

        • Kristin September 2, 2019   Reply →

          Yes, that makes sense. This place only required weekends once a month, one holiday a year. Yet I’ve always done one to two weekends a month sometimes even 3 holidays a year, and at least one day a week to help out when the only requirement was one weekend and one holiday a year.
          Now I can only do all the above with weekend and holiday but only one day during the week instead of more. Now they’re saying they are changing the policy and requiring at least two days during the week.

          Do you think thats allowed? To change things all of a sudden?

          • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L September 4, 2019  

            Unfortunately since they’re the policy-writers they can change the policy to whatever they want, whenever they want 🙁 Their requirements aren’t typical for PRN jobs, so if it doesn’t work for you I would definitely look into other PRN options. Indeed.com is a great site to look for other PRN jobs in your setting if you just search for “Occupational Therapist PRN” in your city. I hope this helps!

          • Kristin September 4, 2019  

            Thank you,
            That is helpful. I did not realize they made the policies, me and the other prns thought it had to come from HR.

            Thanks for the info in case I need to make a change.

      • Hannah August 9, 2021   Reply →

        Hi Kristin, how great that you have retired through your PRN. I’m lucky that I have insurance through my husband. I was wondering if it’s common to have retirement through a PRN gig. Thanks!

  • Marie March 14, 2018   Reply →

    Thank you for laying it all out. I have been a fulltime OT in SNF and Home Health. I am starting a PRN job that has potential for fulltime or part time. They are paying me by the visit with benefits kicking in when I reach part time or full time status. Mileage compensation now. How does that sound to you?

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L March 14, 2018   Reply →

      Congrats on going PRN! I think you’ll enjoy the flexibility compared to the typical full-time schedule. If you find that you aren’t getting enough visits, you can always get a second PRN position in another setting to make sure you have enough work each week. Best of luck to you!

      • Tamara May 30, 2019   Reply →

        Thank you, that was a great review of the PROs and CONS! I have been a travel therapist for 11 years and want to settle in one place for a while but I don’t think I could ever work full time because I am so used to the flexibility. So I have decided to try out having multiple PRN positions.

  • Mary Della Mora MS, OTRL March 21, 2018   Reply →

    I definitely agree that if your’e a new grad, or new to the setting (ie never worked in a snf before) that you should work with more seasoned OT’s nearby to answer questions and support you. The biggest issue that I had when I worked prn in a snf after my full time school based position, was not being trained in documentation software that wasn’t user friendly, and getting progress notes dumped on me when I only saw a patient one time. I personally find it unethical and unfair to the patient to expect a therapist who has worked with the patient once to write a comprehensive progress report that could have an affect on medical care coverage.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L March 21, 2018   Reply →

      Wow, that’s really awful to hear. I’ve found that hospital positions (full time and PRN) are generally quite a bit more ethical and rarely will pull that type of nonsense. You might get some heavier patients from time to time but they (the hospitals) aren’t looking to set their PRNs up for failure like that.

      • Chenee March 5, 2021   Reply →

        I’m challenged these days as a PRN in SNF settings and seeking any feedback, shared experience or insights because I am finding it almost impossible to gather enough info about a patient to even know precautions, hospital course, what they are working on etc. Have all facilities stopped leaving short notes or a quick face to face giving vital info and direction. I have about ten minutes to gather info through a tedious, burdensome Optima program that can take 10 minutes to just log on to and the notes are vague, formulaic, sound good but redundantly say little and am also supposed to complete my documentation within sane ten minutes. It cannot do it and the program is not at all intuitive or clear.
        I am finding the therapists so stressed themselves and grumpy because they cannot complete their work either.
        I ce been around awhile and realize I may lack needed skills .I see such onerous documentation compromising safety and detracting from patient care.
        Because these programs are built to appear professional and appeal to payers, I am finding they say little are superfluous and imagine the gobs of pages are rarely read by others..
        I find it almost dangerous and compromising.
        Any thoughts appreciated .
        Maybe it’s ni longer an option for me
        And I’d like to hear other opinions about Rehab Optima as I find it counterproductive, difficult and pretentious .
        Thank you

        • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L March 17, 2021   Reply →

          Hi Chenee, I’m so sorry to hear about your frustrations! If I were in your position, I would gently bring up your patient concerns to staff and management, and ask the treating therapists if they can write up (and update regularly!) quick cards on each patient with their diagnosis, current mobility/ADL status, deficit areas and “must-know” info. Two of my PRN jobs do this (one in acute care and one in inpatient rehab), and it saves me and the other PRN therapists SO much time and struggles! I know it takes a bit more time to do this but I truly believe it is not only much better/safer for the therapists but it really benefits the patients as well.

  • Morgan June 21, 2018   Reply →

    I have been a PRN OT for 5 years and you hit all the pros and cons right on and I think I also will be a PRN for life. I will say that both my PRN employers have 401k plans with matching for PRN which is nice!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L June 23, 2018   Reply →

      That’s great to know that some PRN positions do offer 401k plans! I’ll definitely have to look into that when I switch to another PRN position out of state in the future.

  • Katie June 27, 2018   Reply →

    WOW this was so helpful. I am in the process of taking boards and trying to find motivation to keep going by looking up jobs. I initially was thinking of travel OT because of being unsure about settings and commitments to a full time but I didn’t even consider doing multiple per diems. Since I will be new to the work force, how long did you stay at your per diems (in the case you didn’t like one) without it looking hurting your credibility or working against you? Thank you!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L June 27, 2018   Reply →

      I’m so glad this was helpful for you! I definitely recommend keeping one that you don’t like for at least a year to not look bad on your resume. Since you’ll be working PRN, you won’t have to work much at one that you don’t like as long as you can get a second one in the meantime to make up for lack of hours, if you happen to not like one of them. Best of luck to you with your boards and job hunting!

  • Adelyn January 14, 2019   Reply →

    Thank you so much for your insight! As a new graduate, I started out part-time and eventually switched to PRN (working at 3 different facilities). I definitely enjoy the flexibility in scheduling. The biggest con for me is being able to get enough hours some weeks. Overall I think PRN is a great option if you are able to manage your time and money effectively. Once again thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L January 14, 2019   Reply →

      Thanks for sharing your insight! I agree, getting enough hours can be tough for a lot of PRN positions. I’ve been really fortunate that my acute care PRN job always has enough need for full-time hours but I know a COTA who works for 5 (!) PRN companies to ensure he has full-time hours. I’m glad you enjoy it though! The flexibility is definitely one of the best perks of it.

      • Carley Howe May 12, 2021   Reply →

        Hi! Question….so I recently accepted a PRN position and I get the feeling that they will be wanting me to go up to full time (found out after hire). However, I really want to work an additional PRN due to increase pay and experience…I wanted to pick your brain on PRN employee etiquette, and if it’s okay that I tell that first job that I can work three days a week. Thank you!!

        • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L May 17, 2021   Reply →

          Hi Carley, if you applied for/got hired for the PRN position, it’s totally your call how much or how little you want to work. You can let them know if you prefer not to have a set schedule or full-time hours so you’ll have the flexibility to work another position or do other things. They’ll certainly understand since you’ve applied as a PRN and not as a full-time, set schedule.

  • Janet January 14, 2019   Reply →

    I retired two years ago (now age 65) and am keeping up my license as an OTR. I found after two years I wanted to return to work and found a perfect fit for me as a PRN at a hospital. I’m a little scared though returning after two years off and learning all the new documentation, etc. I’m trying to get over the concept that I don’t have to work all the days and times offered. Any advice for me? Thanks! Your article was very helpful.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L January 16, 2019   Reply →

      I would definitely say to go for it! The documentation can be a bit daunting at first, but many hospitals will give you the proper training time with documentation even when you’re PRN. If you can, pick up more days when you first start to really get in the groove and get the hang of things, and then when you feel proficient you can ease into working less if you desire. The more you pick up in the beginning, the easier it should be. Good luck!

  • Catherine February 12, 2019   Reply →

    I switched from part time to per diem and my employer only pays me my part time pay instead of per diem rate (which is about 5 dollars less per hour) unless I travel from one facility to another. Do you think that’s fair or would you challenge that rule?

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L February 14, 2019   Reply →

      Hi Catherine, that seems to be an unusual policy. I personally would want to work PRN somewhere where I’m actually getting the fair PRN rate, since that extra $5 an hour makes a huge difference each month and at the end of the year! I would try to challenge it and if they can’t change it, maybe look into other facilities’ PRN rates to see if you could be getting more and consider applying there as well.

      • T June 22, 2021   Reply →

        Great article, Sarah! How do you actually check the PRN rates at the facilities? And, how/ what sites/ other- should I look for PRN jobs?

        • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L June 26, 2021   Reply →

          To find out the PRN rates, you’ll usually have to find out from the facility themselves since job postings may not always have them posted. Be sure to check out Indeed.com Or ZipRecruiter for PRN postings. Good luck!

  • Alison March 6, 2019   Reply →

    Hi! I was wondering if anyone has recommendations for working a full-time and PRN job? I was offered a full-time job, but am considering applying to PRN positions for evenings or weekends to make a little extra on the side. Thank you!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L March 9, 2019   Reply →

      It’s certainly doable! A few of my full-time coworkers do this and pick up a few extra weekend shifts a month, which definitely adds up! One thing to consider if your current job has a holiday requirement, you might want to consider a PRN job that doesn’t or is flexible so you don’t have to work every major and minor holiday. You should definitely go for it!

  • Julie April 5, 2019   Reply →

    Hi! I am a new grad and currently working two PRN positions where I have been for about 3 months now. I easily get 40 hours or more a week because both positions are in the hospital setting where there is always a need! My partner recently found out he is being relocated for work and we will be moving to a new state. I am sad to leave my positions but was wondering if you have any advice on letting my employers know I will have to leave in a month. I am not sure proper protocol because they are PRN positions. Many thanks!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L April 6, 2019   Reply →

      I like to treat PRN positions like full-time positions with giving notice just to play it safe. I would recommend giving them at least two weeks notice, or a 3-4 week notice if you can so they have time to post a new position and hire a new PRN OT if needed. Best of luck with your move!

  • Anna April 21, 2019   Reply →

    Hello Sarah!! Thanks so much for this great list! My biggest question is in regards to taxes… how do taxes typically impact a PRN COTA/OT?
    Thanks again!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L April 21, 2019   Reply →

      You’re so welcome! Another great thing about working PRN is that you’re still taxed like any other employee, so you don’t have to do anything special or worry about saving up a ton when tax time comes since they already take taxes out each pay period.

  • Erin June 10, 2019   Reply →

    Does anyone work Just PRN jobs to avoid the high cost of insurance through their employer(s). I have been paying about $1200/mo! for a family plan for the past 5 years through my full-time employer. Come June 30, the company I work for is dissolving. I’ve already signed up through the Marketplace to start July 1, since I will be unemployed. I can’t believe the difference in price! So much less! I’m considering just doing PRN for at least awhile so I can keep the cheaper insurance, and spend more time with my family! Just don’t know if it’s too risky when I’m the source of income for my family. Any advice/encouragement appreciated.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L June 12, 2019   Reply →

      From personal experience I’ve noticed that my private insurance has been higher than what my facility offers full-time employees, but when I did the math on the higher PRN hourly rate vs. full-time OT rate, I still came out ahead financially by working PRN. Be sure to do some research on how much the Marketplace will cost you compared to your current premiums before you take the plunge. I’m curious to see others’ perspectives on full-time insurance rates vs. getting your own insurance when working PRN.

  • Nicole June 15, 2019   Reply →

    Hi Sarah! Thanks for the great list of pros and cons about PRN jobs! I was wondering how long (or short) in advance you know what days/hours you are working so that you can plan accordingly with your multiple PRN positions. I am a new grad and potentially have a PRN job headed my way, I would love to hear your advice on how you make your schedules work! Thanks!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L June 15, 2019   Reply →

      Hi Nicole! Every facility is a bit different with their scheduling system, so your facility might be different. With my scheduling, since both of my PRN positions are at the same hospital, I use one online scheduling website and pick up the shifts I want to work at least a few days ahead of time, but find that I have a better chance of getting an available shift about a week or more in advance. I’m fortunate that my hospital always has a need and rarely calls me off, so I don’t have to worry about juggling other PRN options at other systems. If this were the case, I’d probably try to arrange my shifts with the facilities at least one-two weeks ahead of time. I hope this helps/makes sense!

      • Nicole June 15, 2019   Reply →

        This does make sense! Thanks so much 🙂

      • Stella August 1, 2019   Reply →

        Hi Sarah,
        Thank you so much for your sharing and insights. I have not worked as an OT for 15 years. Since my kids are older, I want to work as a PRN OT in a HH setting. The company will have orientation for electronic documentation and will let me shadow the OT for a little bit. They only have one other OT. My experience was inpatient rehabilitation. I have not done HH before. Do you think it will be wise to do HH instead of hospital setting where I will have more coworkers to discuss treatment with? Thanks again for your insights!

        • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L August 3, 2019   Reply →

          Hi Stella, congrats on getting back into the field! Since you already have prior OT experience, I think trying out this setting with the ability to shadow the current OT beforehand would be fine. If you don’t love the setting, you can always get an additional PRN hospital position as well. Before you start, I definitely recommend you spend at least a few days taking multiple online home health continuing ed courses. MedBridge has a whole series of home health content, but if you use a different unlimited OT CEU program, I’m sure they will have a good amount too. Since it’s been 15 years, I would consider taking as many of those home health courses as you can to get a good feel for things and to feel comfortable jumping back into the field. Let me know if you have any other questions, and best of luck to you!

  • Sarah July 31, 2019   Reply →

    Hi Sarah!
    This article was very helpful! I am a student considering my job options after I graduate. Eventually I would want multiple PRN jobs to reach 40 hours a week, but initially, how long would you recommend only have 1 PRN job as a new grad to get fully trained at one job before getting a 2nd PRN job? Or is being trained at 2 PRN jobs at the same time doable as a new grad?

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L July 31, 2019   Reply →

      I’m glad it was helpful for you! I would recommend starting with just one PRN job for the first several months so you can get enough training, then go for the second one after 6 months or so. If the first one doesn’t give you a ton of hours from the get-go, then getting a second one sooner is definitely doable and will ensure you’re getting solid hours.

  • CM December 9, 2019   Reply →

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for all the PRN info! This article including its comments section have been incredibly valuable to me as I prepare interview questions for an interview I am attending Friday for an acute/outpatient PRN position. I am curious as to what the entry level hourly PRN average pay rate is and if there are certain questions you would include in your initial interview for an entry level OTD OTR/L position. I am going in rather blind as far as benefits and salary go- am looking for advice in this area.

    Many Thanks,

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L December 9, 2019   Reply →

      Hi Cat, I’m so glad the post has been helpful for you! I’ve learned recently (after moving cross-country) that PRN rates can really vary widely. Because of this variation, I highly recommend you check out OTSalary.com, which is an open-source document where OTs and COTAs from
      across the country input their hourly and salary data (including if they’re PRN) along with what city they’re in. This really helped me figure out what an average rate is, which can help you for negotiating purposes, if your facility does negotiate PRN rates (this can also vary! But it’s worth a shot to try to negotiate anyway). Good luck with your interview!

  • Binie February 4, 2020   Reply →

    Im considering going PRN at an outpatient clinic. They are saying that if a patient no-shows for their appointment, I will not get paid for that hour? Does this seem reasonable/ethical?

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L February 5, 2020   Reply →

      I wouldn’t say it’s reasonable but did have this same “protocol” at a previous outpatient position myself, and have heard of it at other outpatient positions. It’s definitely not an optimal situation to have to clock out and wait unpaid for the next client to show up 🙁 I’d love to hear if anyone else has had a position like this.

    • Mahdis October 3, 2020   Reply →

      Hi did you sign a contract to be a PRN with your company. There is a company wants to work with me as a PRN, they asked for all my documentation but they did not give me any agreement to sign. Is it how this works? Thank you!

  • Autumnn Smith October 14, 2020   Reply →

    Question…Ive been a COTA for 6 years and have earned a few additional CEU (ASTYM and Lymphedema) which we use in my are lots. How do i go about asking for an increase in my hourly wedge? I have the same wedge since i have started with a company.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L October 24, 2020   Reply →

      You can certainly ask for an increase in your hourly rate with your new certifications. While budgets may be tight right now with everything going on, it never hurts to try. Here is a really great article from the Muse that covers many tips to help you start the negotiation process.

  • Katie November 23, 2020   Reply →

    I am a new grad and have recently landed a PRN position in a SNF. I have been experiencing cancelations (to be expected), but I am curious to what is considered an appropriate time frame in which the SNF notifies me that they do not need me to work. It almost feels as if they have me reserve my days weeks in advance without truly knowing if they need me. In addition, I am required to get test for COVID by the facility 2 times before my scheduled PRN days. I have taken the time to get tested at the facility to just be canceled less then 12hrs before my scheduled day. Just trying to get an idea on how to best handle the situation!
    Thanks in advance!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L November 25, 2020   Reply →

      Hi Katie, I’m so sorry you’re going through the extra stress with Covid; I think this experience will be atypical for you for sure. In “normal times” you won’t have to deal with the testing or the major unpredictability of SNF caseloads due to Covid. Facilities of all types can and do cancel therapists even the morning of, but usually not nearly as often. Would you consider applying for an acute care PRN position? I’m in acute care and we’re slammed and giving as many hours as PRNs want to work right now, so I would be willing to bet hospitals in your area are in a similar position. Either way this will pass and things will hopefully normalize a bit next year.

  • Amber February 21, 2021   Reply →

    Is it normal for PRN jobs to tell you your shift the day of? What is the best way to plan for another job in that case?

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L February 23, 2021   Reply →

      Typically (and ideally) you will have your PRN shifts scheduled well before the day of, so you can better plan your weekly schedule with other things you need to do as well as other PRN shifts as needed. If they only let you know the day of, I would personally find something else a bit more predictable/stable.

  • Nitika Singh April 20, 2021   Reply →

    Hi Sarah !
    The article was so enlightening and helpful. Thank you for sharing.

    I am a PT . I never did PRN job before, recently got an offer $52 an hour. It’s a SNF in NYC. I am a foreign trained PT and I am new to software documentation. Any specific word of caution in terms of my PT License safety .

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L April 26, 2021   Reply →

      Hi Nitika, congrats on your first PRN job! The main thing to be mindful of in SNF settings (whether you’re PRN or full time) is to ensure you’re able to provide ethical therapy services and you aren’t feeling uncomfortable with any billing practices. If you haven’t yet, I would recommend you talk with a few therapists working there to get their perspective on the SNF’s management and productivity demands. I hope this helps, and good luck!

      • T June 22, 2021   Reply →

        Sarah, are there productivity demands in a hospital setting? I never tried this setting but have been considering it for a change. I have found myself being burned out working at SNFs.
        If so, how are they compared to other settings?
        ( SNF, for example)

        • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L June 29, 2021   Reply →

          Every hospital is different with their requirements but acute care positions will have productivity requirements, which are almost always less than SNF requirements. My positions have been between 60-70% but I have heard some being higher than this. It’s usually easier to manage than SNFs, even with many days requiring a lot more unbillable time with checking in with providers, running around, etc.

  • Brendan McShane April 24, 2021   Reply →

    Have you ever considered starting your own small business and hiring out as a PRN OTR? As a PRN home health OTR for 2 different companies I think this may be the best way to go. I am looking for reasources on how to set it up. Becoming a 1099 contractor has real benefits.
    Brendan McShane, MOT

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