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  • Writer's pictureDavid Harper

John’s Top Tips; a guide to having a great locum shift

We’ve taken the opportunity to make the most of the expert experience of our excellent locum pharmacists.  John has kindly taken the time to provide us with a break down of how he successfully conducts his day as a locum. This structure has supported his high quality work for many years and he is one of our most experienced and sought after locums. A large proportion of the advice John gives below are common themes in a lot of the positive feedback we get from companies, so we know it’s the type of practice that is sought after.

Before your shift

Take a look at the branch on google maps. As well as making sure you have planned a journey and allocated enough time (including contingency time), use google maps street view to look at where the pharmacy is based. Look for any obvious places to park, including nearby side streets. If you can’t find anywhere, call the branch and ask the staff where they park. Keeping some change in your car for parking is a good idea.

Have a copy of your RP certificate ready to take with you as well as some photo ID.

Aim to arrive 10 minutes before opening but if your still late despite planning, call Pharmaseekers to let them know you will be late, they will call the branch and the company for you.

Start of your day

Once you arrive, make sure you say Hello and greet the staff, you will need their help during the day. Remember to ask them where you can keep your belongings. You might also want to think about advising staff that you do NMS, MUR as well as any other services you are accredited for and ask them to let you know if they see any suitable patients. You should also ask staff about lunch breaks if you’re scheduled to take one during your shift.

Put your RP certificate up and ask where the RP log is. Take possession of the CD keys.

Ask the staff where you can find the following:

  1. SOPs

  2. CD books

  3. MDA rxs

  4. Bags, Bottles & Boxes

  5. Owings file/box

  6. Consultation room (ask if methadone is supervised here, take a look around, is everything you’re likely to need in here to hand? NMS/MUR forms, consent forms etc)

  7. Important contact numbers; Drs, suppliers etc

  8. Drug Tariff, BNF etc

  9. IT passwords

Ask the staff about the following:

  1. Are there any RXs from the previous day to do?

  2. Is there a delivery service? How does it work?

  3. Do they order Rxs for patients? How does it work?

  4. Do they have a communication diary/list? If so, are they are queries you need to action?

  5. Where are the completed Rxs from the day kept so you can file them after hand out.

  6. Are there any NMS calls to be made that day?

  7. What basket colour codes do they use?

  8. How does their RX retrieval system work? Take a look and familiarise yourself with label placement, is RX attached? if not, where are the RXs stored so you know where to look when a patient asks for an Rx.

During your day

Hopefully you now know everything you need to get through the day efficiently.

Keep your mobile on you but put it on mute or vibrate. Avoid using it for anything other than responding to any work offers.

Remember to follow up any NMS the staff mentioned earlier or complete an MUR where appropriate.

End of the day

Hand over the CD keys, make sure they are left the same way you found them (into a sealed/marked bag etc).

Write any relevant notes into the communication diary or leave behind a handover for the following days pharmacist and manager.

Hand your invoice in a sealed envelope to a member of staff and label it with ‘locum invoice’ to make it less likely to be misplaced.

For extra safety, stay with the staff until they lock up.

Extra top tips for locum life

Consider attaching a carabiner to your belt/skirt/trousers to place the keys on. During the day you’ll feel them against you, you’ll be more aware if they’re missing and less likely to forget to and them back at the end of the day.

Keep receipts for all work-related purchases; car parking, stationary, text books, car services, work mobile etc. Use these for completing your tax returns

Buy yourself a sturdy notebook and use it to make IT system notes for future use when you encounter different PMRs. Where possible during shifts, ask staff if you can observe them labelling etc and start making notes for each system in your book. Make notes on how to:

  1. Log on

  2. Access a patient/create a patient

  3. Get to the PMR

  4. Repeat an item from the PMR

  5. Add a new drug for the patients current Rx

  6. Add/change a dose/quantity

  7. Print the final label and endorse the Rx

  8. Correct a label mistake/delete a wrong item

  9. Get an extra bad label

  10. Re-print a label

  11. Order the item used if not on auto-order

  12. Create an owing

  13. All of the above via etp

  14. Edit/check/send an order

  15. Change the printer ribbon/cartridge

  16. Log off

  17. Numbers of the IT systems help line

Leave spaces for additions to your notes.

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