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  • Writer's pictureKatie Alvers

The Benefits of Working as a Pharmacy Locum

In this extended blog, we hope to highlight the advantages of being a pharmacy locum. With the help of some of our experienced locum pharmacists, we explore the many benefits such as flexible schedules, exposure to different pharmacy settings, the opportunity to gain diverse experiences and much more.


Flexibility in Schedule and Work-Life Balance

When asking our locums about what they considered to be the benefits of working as a pharmacy locum, flexibility was the first point nearly everyone responded with.

Flexibility extends to many aspects of working as a locum. It means you are in control of dates you work, how often you work, the rate you work for, how far you travel, who you work for and much more.

It also means that as a locum you’re in a unique position to control your diary and achieve a work-life balance which suits your needs.

Locums can take optimum advantage of the flexibility locum work offers to give them the work-life balance they want. Some locums only book shifts within the next 3 week period, meaning they can keep maximum flexibility in advance for other plans. Other locums prefer the security of booking in advance a few months at a time, and others 6-12 months ahead.

Here are comments from some of our excellent locums on the flexibility and work-life balance benefits of locum work

The main benefits I see of being a locum are deciding my own work/life balance, where and when I work. Where I work means I can set a travelling distance limit, and , if there are multiple options, which branches I prefer to work at. When I work is a major benefit. I can work full or part weeks, unlike being a manager, and I can take more time off, for longer, as a locum, than as a manager, although I will not obviously be paid. Derek

You can have a day off whenever you want. You can have as much time off as you like. Mohammed

And the reason why I like to do locuming is because I choose where and when I would like to work at my convenience. Sabiya

I think the main benefit of being a locum for me is flexibility. Lisa

Professional Growth and Learning Opportunities

The opportunity for learning and professional growth whilst working as a locum can’t be overlooked.

You’ll have the chance to work in diverse environments and expand your professional experience as a pharmacist. Locums can spend one day in a GP Dispensary and the next day in a non-customer facing internet pharmacy facility. The expertise of pharmacy locums are used in a vast array of settings, from small village community pharmacies to large industrial hubs, prisons to hospitals, GP surgeries to even veterinary dispensaries! The opportunity to capitalise on diverse experiences as a pharmacy locum is extensive.

A shift in a new location, even in a setting you’re used to, can sometimes be a challenging experience. Getting to grips with a new PMR system, developing a rapport with new colleagues and members of the public and the general day to day responsibilities of your role can result in a demanding day. Yet, most of our locums relish the challenge. Especially after working for many years in the same location, the demands of varying environments has proved to be a hugely refreshing change.

All of these varied experiences can be used to the benefits of a locums professional growth. A locum can draw on these experiences and apply them with confidence in any new settings they come across.

They can also provide locums with valuable content for Revalidation reflective work.

A lot of our locums find that collaborating with such a large number of different pharmacy professionals is particularly beneficial for professional growth. Lots of locums have found that being able to observe different approaches and methods has been a great opportunity to learn and build upon for their own practice.

Here are some comments from our locums

Locum work allows me to meet new people and work in different environments, and to meet the challenges that that can sometimes bring. All in all a much better option for me at this stage of my pharmacy life. Derek

You get to see different places & meet & work with many different people, some Great & Amazing people & some not so great. Mohammed

I started locuming in addition to my regular work. Locuming is a great way of meeting new people and building experience. It requires confidence and also perseverance to work as a locum. Joel

I for one am always interested in how other Pharmacies work and I can learn few new ideas from them. Sabiya

Of course, [being a locum] means discipline and careful budgeting, as well as ensuring I keep accurate records of my self-employed locum work. I find keeping a spreadsheet of my work and income, and keeping on top of my invoices and payments is essential. Another key is to adapt to the way each dispensary works and follow their procedures. Lisa

Competitive Compensation and Rates

It’s safe to say that a big draw of locum work for pharmacy professionals is the potential earnings. Historically, pharmacy locums will see higher rates for their services when compared to the salary of an employed role providing similar work.

As a locum with Pharmaseekers, you are considered self-employed. As such, you agree the rates of pay for the work you wish to complete. As a locum, you are under no obligation to agree to bookings at any rates less than you wish to agree to.

As you spend longer in the industry, you will become adept at recognising trends and other circumstances which inform rate patterns. This knowledge will aid you in setting your rates appropriately. A good pharmacy locum agency will also assist you in this. At Pharmaseekers, we have invested a lot into our system to provide our locums with current information regarding rates. We also make ourselves available for direct contact with our locums who might want to discuss current trends in the industry which might impact rates.

Here are the thoughts of our locums

The rate of pay is normally higher than if working for the same company but as a non locum. Mohammed

It’s a good way to earn more but it’s also very lucrative as well as you need to develop the skills to negotiate and also be able to justify why you want the rate. Joel

Building a Diverse Professional Network

A great bonus of working as a locum is the multitude of professional relationships you can develop. More often that not, locums will find companies they really gel with and find that their values and ways of working match those of the companies. These matches often lead to mutually beneficial relationships by which the locum provides their services on a regular basis to these companies.

It’s often the great feedback that these relationships generate for a locum that is then used by agencies to secure further work for the locum with other establishments.

We even have a good number of locums who have enjoyed working at a location so much that we have ultimately arranged their full-time employment with the company.

As a locum, one of the choices you will make is whether to use the services of a locum agency or not. Using the services of an agency enables you to create and maintain a vast professional network that would be difficult to establish working alone. With an agency, you have access to many customers all in one place, each of these has the potential to develop into a lucrative source of work for a locum. At Pharmaseekers, we handle all the organisational work for you. We liaise with customers to establish the work available; we make them aware of your availability and we are doing this for a large proportion of customers day-in, day-out. This leaves you to do what you do best, provide outstanding pharmacy services to your customers.

Whilst the vast majority of all our locums have positive interactions during their shifts, there are unavoidably occasions when some shifts don’t go as well as expected. Even the most experienced locums encounter these situations. The beauty of being a locum is that more often that not, your time with a particular company will be temporary and you can make the decision not to book work there again in the future if they are not a good fit for you.

Let’s hear what some of our locums had to say about the network building potential of locum work

Locum work allows me to meet new people. As it happens the companies that use [Pharmaseekers] services are excellent to work with. I should have mentioned earlier that it helps enormously to have a great team like Pharmaseekers behind me, with all their help and support. Derek

You meet & work with many different people, some Great & Amazing people & some not so great. You get to work with the Great & Amazing staff at pharmaseekers. Mohammed

Personally, I found the transition to locum work quite easy, as after being a manager, I had gained many years of experience and was up to date with all the services, and willing to carry them out during my locums, which I think the staff of each pharmacy really appreciated, and which led to many repeat bookings. Lisa

Work-Life Integration and Personal Fulfilment

At Pharmaseekers, a lot of our locums have had long, successful careers as employed pharmacy professionals. The decision to change direction into locuming is often one not taken lightly but proved to be hugely beneficial for those that made it.

We like to invest time liaising with employed pharmacy professionals before they ultimately start locuming as we appreciate what a mammoth choice is being considered. What we regularly hear from employed professionals, particularly pharmacists and branch managers, is that they’re often restricted and unable to provide their services and skillset in the best way possible due to excessive managerial responsibilities.

When we ask locums how they feel after they make the decision to leave employment, it’s always the personal fulfilment and lack of stress they comment on first.

Here is what some of our previously employed locums had to say about the personal fulfilment of locum work

I no longer need to do much of the smothering paperwork, tick box exercises and target chasing that made me give up managerial work. Being a locum allows me to be more of the pharmacist I trained to be, dispensary work, engaging with the public and providing services. Derek

You can pick & choose which pharmacies you would like to work or not work in. If you have a bad experience in any pharmacy you can then decide never to work there again. You do not have to worry about managing the pharmacy. You can just work there on the day & don't have to worry about the next day in that pharmacy if things are not as good as they should be there. You don't have to worry about meeting targets each month. You don't have line managers on your back telling you to do more & more but without any extra staff or help. There is much less paperwork to do. Mohammed

After 22 years managing a pharmacy, I reached the stage five or six years ago where I wanted to be free to work more at times when I am saving up for something, then not work while I have a nice long holiday! Not being answerable to anyone and free to chose when to work is wonderful! Lisa

We hope this article demonstrates the potential rewards to be gained from working as a pharmacy locum.

We love hearing from all our locums, existing and potential, so if you would like to discuss anything you have read today or any other locum pharmacy related topics, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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