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  • Writer's pictureKatie Alvers

How to get shifts as a locum pharmacist

Embarking on a career as a locum pharmacist offers a myriad of opportunities. You’ve got oodles of flexibility and the prospect of experiencing a wide range of pharmacy settings. Whether you’re new to the locum world or looking to maximise your shift opportunities, you’ve probably considered the best way to secure regular and rewarding placements.

The path to finding locum work traditionally involved direct approaches to pharmacies, scouring job advertisements and in industry publications. Now, partnering with a specialised agency can bring more hits. Here, we delve deeper into why signing up with a locum agency can be a game-changer for your career. 

The direct approach

It's understandable that a locum pharmacist may assume that securing their shifts directly may be the best route to take.

However, the direct approach requires considerable effort in terms of time and management. Identifying potential opportunities involves not only keeping an ear to the ground but also maintaining active and consistent engagement with pharmacy managers and owners, which is very time-consuming. Don’t forget – you might only be working for an afternoon or a few days. Can you really keep up with that constant jobseeking?

Working directly also means that you'll be dealing with any after booking issues such as payment queries yourself without any support, another time consuming activity.

Online platforms

The internet has become a vital tool in the quest for locum pharmacist positions. Most companies you seek to book with will be engaging with some sort of online system.

In recent years, we've seen the emergence of online platforms offering a locum booking service. These platforms tend to stay true to their name and offer a solely online service with very little support from human teams.

Whilst at face value these platforms appear as an efficient method of securing shifts, the reality is that locums are often left dealing with ineffective FAQs or rigid automated phonelines when trying to deal with complex issues or queries.

Very often, these platforms also fail to apply human expertise and knowledge to vacancies meaning that favoured locums might not get booked into shifts as someone was quicker than them.

The agency advantage

There is a better, alternative route: signing up with an agency. Agencies will get to know you as an individual and try to work with you to offer you the most suitable work. Here are the benefits of using an agency.

Industry contacts

Locum agencies have a comprehensive network of relationships and connections, cultivated over years. These contacts span a wide range, from independent community pharmacies to large pharmacy chains, hospital pharmacies and unique settings such as prison pharmacies, military bases and research institutions.

The direct line to hidden markets

Much of the job market operates through word-of-mouth and personal recommendations – and agencies are always on the phone! They act as the connection between various pharmacy settings and locum pharmacists, and often get wind of shifts before they go public. This means locum pharmacists going via agencies have access to a hidden job market.

A reputation for quality

Agencies have to create robust, trusting relationships built on years of positive interactions and successful placements. When an agency recommends a candidate, that endorsement carries weight. This level of trust can boost a locum pharmacist’s chances of being selected for sought-after shifts.

A diverse range of opportunities

The benefit of such extensive contacts isn’t just in the quantity of job opportunities. It’s also in their quality and diversity. Through an agency, a locum pharmacist can gain exposure to various working environments, from bustling city pharmacies to rural community ones. This diversity can enrich your professional experience, making you more adaptable, skilled and valuable in the marketplace.

Tailored matches

Agencies understand the unique culture and needs of each pharmacy. That’s how they can recommend locum pharmacists whose skills, professional goals and even personalities align with those of the pharmacy. This tailored matching process ensures higher satisfaction rates for both the pharmacist and the pharmacy, leading to longer-lasting and more fulfilling engagements.

Access to diverse locations

Are you adventurous or simply wish to explore opportunities beyond your immediate locality? Agencies provide access to a wider array of positions, including those in more distant regions or unique settings that you might not have considered.

Stress reduction

Let’s face it, shift hunting can be a stressful endeavour, particularly when balancing it with existing work commitments. An agency takes the legwork out of the equation, streamlining the process and leaving you to focus on what you do best – serving the public.

Planning ahead

With an agency’s support, you’re better equipped to plan your schedule in advance. They can secure you consecutive bookings and even manage your calendar, ensuring a steady flow of work that suits your lifestyle.

Embracing the agency route

In essence, going through an agency brings benefits in the shape of time savings, ready-built trust and a wider range of placement possibilities.

By leveraging their industry insights, extensive networks, and personalised support systems, you’re not just finding work – you’re positioning yourself for a vibrant, varied and fulfilling locum pharmacist career.

Agency partnership offers a streamlined path to discover opportunities that match your ambitions and lifestyle. It’s more than a mere conduit for finding work; it's about building a thriving, dynamic career with the backing of experienced professionals who are invested in your success. After all, a successful placement is good news for all three parties engaged in the agency model.

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