The use of flexible non-contract nursing staff is increasing in Australia and in other countries where there is currently a nursing shortage. There is sparse empirical evidence relating to the experience of these nurses. This focus group study with six groups of enrolled and registered nurses in one regional health authority in New South Wales reports on the challenges and rewards of working through the casual pool. The textual data were coded and reported in themes and subthemes; the overarching theme is balance of social and professional life, while subthemes are social politics, nursing work and professional performance. The results reveal that nurses who work from the casual pool have insight into the work environment and culture of clinical teams that is untapped formally. They have little or no chance to provide clinical teams with feedback or receive feedback on their own performance. The consequence of this study has been the development of a two-way performance intervention to promote high standards of care from nurses who work from the casual pool and the promotion of safe clinical environments and cultures.