In Search of the Ideal: Career Choice Pros and Cons: Part 1 – Locuming

The realm of pharmacy careers presents a perpetual dilemma for professionals: the choice between the steadfast assurance of a permanent role and the adventurous autonomy of a locum pharmacist career. As pharmacists navigate this crossroad, the discourse surrounding Permanent vs. Locum Pharmacy Careers continues to evolve. In this exploration, we delve into the heart of this debate, aiming to unravel the intricacies and shed light on the contrasting landscapes of permanence and flexibility. Join us on this journey as we dissect the pros and cons, paving the way for pharmacists to discern the ideal career path that aligns with their aspirations and professional ethos.

In part 1 – we will focus on the pros and cons of locuming!

  • Being a locum pharmacist offers several benefits, making it an attractive career option for many professionals. Here are some key advantages we quickly came up with:
  • Diverse Experiences: Locum pharmacists have the opportunity to work in various settings, such as community pharmacies, brand chains, hospital environments, or even different regions. This exposure provides a breadth of experiences, allowing pharmacists to enhance their skills and adaptability.
  • Flexibility and Autonomy: Locum pharmacists enjoy the freedom to choose when and where they work. This flexibility allows for a better work-life balance and the ability to tailor their schedules to personal preferences.
  • Higher Earning Potential: Locum pharmacists often receive higher hourly rates than their permanent counterparts. This can result in increased earning potential, especially when considering premium rates for specific shifts or special assignments such as night shifts, emergency next day or even same day shifts, public holidays and the like.
  • Networking Opportunities: Working in different locations exposes locum pharmacists to a wide network of professionals. Building relationships and networking with diverse teams and healthcare professionals can open doors for future opportunities and collaborations.
  • Skill Enhancement: Constantly adapting to different environments and systems sharpens a locum pharmacist’s adaptability and problem-solving skills. This continuous learning process contributes to professional growth and development.
  • Variety in Practice: Locum roles allow pharmacists to explore different pharmacy practices and approaches. This variety enriches their knowledge and broadens their perspectives on patient care.
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: Locum pharmacists essentially run their own business. They make decisions about where to work, with whom, and at what rate. This autonomy appeals to those with an entrepreneurial spirit, and/or need the flexibility due to personal commitments and desires. 
  • Temporary Commitments: Locum positions are often temporary, providing pharmacists with the flexibility to take breaks between assignments or pursue other personal or professional interests without the long-term commitment of a permanent role.
  • Exposure to Latest Practices: Working in different settings exposes locum pharmacists to the latest technologies, practices, and innovations in the field. This exposure keeps them at the forefront of advancements in pharmacy.
  • Personal Growth: Adapting to diverse work environments and facing new challenges fosters personal growth. Locum pharmacists often develop resilience, confidence, and a broader skill set.

It’s important to note that while there are many benefits, being a locum pharmacist also comes with challenges, we have listed some of these below: 

  • Initial Challenges: Locum pharmacists may face difficulties securing enough hours, especially when they are new to an agency or haven’t yet established a reputation. This initial uncertainty can be a challenge until a steady stream of opportunities is established.  The best way around this is to quickly build your reputation with your clients – and an agency such as Pharmacy SOS can help you in that regard.  We build a database of feedback from different clients and so can vouch for your skills to potential new pharmacies considering you for a locum shift.
  • Lack of Stability: Unlike permanent roles that offer a stable and predictable schedule, locum positions can be more uncertain. The need to adapt quickly to different environments, systems, and people may create a sense of instability.
  • Continuous Adaptation Stress: Working in diverse settings requires constant adaptation. Locum pharmacists must quickly familiarize themselves with new procedures, software, and workplace cultures. This adaptability stress can be demanding.
  • Variable Work Environments: While exposure to various work environments is a benefit, it can also be a downside. Some pharmacists prefer the stability of working in one place, becoming familiar with colleagues and routines.
  • Isolation: Locum pharmacists may experience a sense of isolation as they move from one workplace to another. Building lasting relationships with colleagues can be challenging, impacting the sense of belonging to a team.
  • Potential for Lower Hourly Pay: While locum pharmacists can earn higher hourly rates, there’s a risk of periods with no work, which can affect overall income. Additionally, per-hour pay rates may not be as consistent as a salaried position.  
  • Less Predictable Income: The income of a locum pharmacist can vary based on the availability of assignments. This fluctuation may make it challenging to predict monthly earnings accurately.
  • Limited Career Growth Within One Setting: Unlike permanent roles that offer the potential for long-term career growth within a specific organization, locum pharmacists may miss out on such opportunities.
  • Possibility of Burnout: Constantly moving between different settings and adapting to new challenges can lead to burnout for some locum pharmacists. Balancing a high level of adaptability with self-care is essential.

It’s essential for individuals to weigh these downsides against the benefits, considering their personal and professional goals when deciding whether to pursue a locum pharmacy career.

In the complex landscape of pharmacy careers, the decision to become a locum pharmacist entails a careful consideration of both the advantages and challenges. While acknowledging the initial hurdles of securing hours and the adaptability stress associated with diverse environments, the overarching benefits significantly outweigh the risks. The prospect of diverse experiences, flexibility, higher earning potential, and continuous professional growth makes locum pharmacy an attractive option. It’s crucial for aspiring locums to recognize and manage the downsides, emphasizing adaptability and resilience, and building relations with clients. Pharmacy SOS can help manage some of these risks, while others are solely the responsibility of the locum pharmacist.

In the grand scheme, the dynamic nature of locum work offers unparalleled opportunities for personal and professional development. Aspiring locum pharmacists are encouraged to weigh these factors against their unique needs and aspirations, recognizing that the journey to an ideal career path involves a thoughtful examination of both locum and permanent placements. Stay tuned for our next blog, where we delve into the pros and cons of permanent pharmacy roles.

(Last Updated on November 20, 2023)