• agency nurse providers;
  • agency nursing work;
  • hospital nursing managers;
  • interviewing method;
  • nursing agencies


• There is a paucity of research in investigating agency nursing work from the perspectives of hospital nursing managers and agency nurse providers.

• This exploratory paper examines the hospital nursing managers' and agency nurse providers' perceptions and experiences of agency nursing work.

• Individual, in-depth interviews were conducted with three agency nurse providers and eight hospital nursing managers. Because of the lack of previous research in this area, an exploratory, semi-structured interviewing technique was deemed appropriate.

• Three major themes emerged from interview data: planning for ward allocation, communication and professionalism.

• In planning for ward allocation, hospital managers were primarily concerned with maintaining adequate numbers of nursing staff in the ward settings. A major concern for agency nurse providers was inappropriate allocation of temporary staff.

• Communication was valued in different ways. While hospital managers focused on communication between the agency nurse and other permanent members of the health care team, agency providers were concerned with exchanges between agencies and hospital organizations, and between the agencies and agency nurses.

• For both groups, responsibility for professional development and the status of agency nursing as a career choice for graduate and experienced nurses were the focal aspects for consideration.

• A limitation of this study is the small number of individual interviews conducted with hospital nursing managers and agency nurse providers. Nevertheless, the findings represent the views of 11 individuals in senior managerial roles.

• The findings reinforce the need to enhance collaboration between hospitals and nursing agencies, and to examine how divergent views of agency nursing work could be reconciled – with the aim of providing quality patient care.