Did you ever hear how your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness? It's funny how often I think of that phrases. It applies to nearly every situation and every person I know.

Consider the case of modern temporary staffing services, which is responsible for thousands of medical job placements in the United States each year.

Yes, thousands of nurses, nursing aides, rehabilitation workers, home health providers and medical staff of every ilk find work each year through temporary placements. Some of these lead to long term and even permanent jobs. Some allow workers to simply explore the healthcare profession and all the opportunities within that system -- first hand. Many entry level positions, as many healthcare practitioners know, begin with the simple step of seeing the professions at work up close and personal.

Temporary services actually begun in the 1940s, when women were suddenly called to work, because so many American men were fighting overseas. Women, however, were not yet very practiced on finding work or on the great variety of skills they now command. So, a man named William Russell Kelly started a service in which he would help women find work and get them in the door. He would also manage their payroll on a temporary basis.

This got the ball rolling on an entire category of workers known as temp workers, but back in the day there was another name for temporary staff. They were called Kelly Girls. And largely, in the 1940s, they were comprised of secretaries and other clerical workers.

The biggest success for temporary services was clerical staff – but it is also the biggest weakness in the industry, because so many people know assume that temporary workers means typists and filing clerks.

Many people won't “stoop” to using a temporary service, because it is beneath their dignity. But, man, oh, man, are they missing out.

Take this writer, for example: I was once a farmer. When my farming days ended, due to an injury, I went into social work. And that all began with a temporary staffing assignment – one that lasted for 14 years!

Of course, after a month, the temporary agency transferred my “case” over to my employer, so I was no longer temporary at all. But the point is made – and the story is true. I've never been back, but I love temporary staffing services, and always will.

Temporary staffing has blossomed, of course, from the days of Kelly Girls. First and foremost, the temporary staffing business has adapted itself to any manner of businesses. They are extremely strong in medical professions, construction and day labor, bookkeeping, assembly, call centers, warehousing and factory jobs, but they are also famously known as a great boost to working moms, who don't have time to go from one interview to another, but still want to work on a part time basis.

What temporary staffing did for me 25 years ago remains true to this day: they can get you in the door. If you are thinking a career in healthcare might be for you, but you have no idea where to start, a staffing service can find you an entry level assignment in a hospital, for example, where you can earn a paycheck while testing the waters. Although it was in social work, that's exactly what I did.

Temporary work is, of course, no longer synonymous with entry level. Staffing services place thousands of substitute teachers, nurses and mid-level managers each year, as well.

Here's a quick list of the types of jobs in medicine that Kelly Services healthcare staffing fills every day: 

Cafeteria worker

Nursing assistants


Home care aides

medical secretaries

receptionists, greeters

data entry

patient care coordinators

materials clerk

pharmacy assistants

billing and coding staff

bilingual interpreters

rehabilitation aides

marketing and sales staff

Just like my career in social work, the simple truth of the matter is that everyone has to start somewhere. Find a temporary assignment and use the assignment to explore new paths and test yourself.

The healthcare profession was one of the very few bright spots in the job market throughout last recession, proving that career in medicine is all but recession-proof. People still got hurt or sick and jobs in medicine continued to grow at a steady pace. Each year new technical developments spawn new jobs in healthcare. As the baby boom moves into the retirement years, more jobs are available in elder care and home care, as well.

So, don't be afraid of temporary services. They get your foot in the door. Sorry, Achilles, that was a bad choice of words. But you know what I mean.