There are currently over 6,000 registered pharmacists working in Ireland. And while there are only 1,500 community pharmacies in the country there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of work.

In fact, the demand for pharmacists is increasing as the global pharmaceutical industry grows. This is great news for any qualified pharmacists looking for work. But did you know that you could work as a pharmacist without being tied to one job or location?

Working as a locum pharmacist offers a wealth of opportunity along with great pay. If you aren’t already familiar with this area of the industry, then it’s about time you changed that!

Read on to find out all about being a locum and the benefits it could bring to your career!

What Is a Locum Pharmacist?

Working as locum pharmacist and working as a regular pharmacist are very similar in their job descriptions.

These roles involve working in a community pharmacy or in a hospital pharmacy dispensing medication. They also provide patients with advice on how to use certain medications.

This is an extremely important role when it comes to public healthcare. A pharmacy technician is the first port of call for anyone with questions regarding the best over-the-counter medicine for them.

So this is what all pharmacists do. The only difference between locums and regular pharmacists is your working contracts.

A regular pharmacist has a full or part-time contract with one pharmacy while a locum is a kind of freelance pharmacist. This means that a locum isn’t tied to one particular pharmacy but can move around different pharmacies.

How long you work in one place depends on the length of your short-term contract. Locums can cover work for a few days or they might take a longer contract covering weeks or even months. This provides support for fixed-term staff at the pharmacy when the pharmacist is away.

How Do You Become a Locum Pharmacist?

Becoming a locum requires all the same qualifications for becoming a pharmacist. After all, you have to be able to perform the same tasks! So becoming a locum isn’t a way to cut corners.

But locums’ career paths go in a different direction when it comes to job hunting. Rather than signing up for fixed-term contracts, locums sign up with an agency who help them to find work.

A few locums choose to work totally freelance (without the help of an agency.) They simply rely on their contacts and established working relationships to bring work in.

But agencies are the first port of call for any hospital or pharmacy looking for an agency. So being on their books is the best way to guarantee work. This is especially true for anyone starting out.

Before you sign up with an agency do some research to find the best one for you. You want to sign up with an agency who will put you forward for the types of roles you want to work in. For example, if you want to work in hospital pharmacies then you should sign with an agency that has hospital contacts.

You should also invest in a diary or something similar that will help you to keep your life organized while working. Being a locum might mean you choose to work a couple of jobs at once. If this is the case, then you need to stay on top of your work schedules.

And wherever you work, do it to the best of your ability. Locum work might mean that you’re not in one place for long but don’t let this mean that your standards slip. If you get bad feedback from your clients then your agency might choose to drop you!

So now you know what you have to do to become a locum, let’s look at why it could be the best career move you could ever make!

1. You Can Work When You Like

When it comes to pharmacy jobs or most jobs in the medical profession, there often isn’t a lot of flexibility. But this isn’t the case for locuming.

Before you take any locum job, your agency will outline the hours on offer. So you can decide in advance if you want to work them. This means that you can avoid working awkward hours and you can keep your schedule free when you want to.

This also means that, technically, you can take as much or as little holiday as you like! There’s no set annual leave that you’re allowed to take. Instead, you can just take a break between jobs.

So if you want to go away for a month, simply let your agency know that you won’t be available to work during that time. It really is as simple as that!

2. You Can Work Where You Like

No contract also means that you aren’t tied to one particular area. So if you want to move around the country you can do. And this is a great bonus for people from all walks of life.

If you’re just starting out and don’t want to be tied down to one location you don’t have to be!

Or if you’re planning to start a family then this job gives you the flexibility to work around them. If you need to move to a better neighborhood for schools, it’ll be easy as a locum!

3. The Pay Is Great

You might be thinking that all this flexibility comes at a price. Well, think again. Because locums get paid just as well as regular pharmacy jobs.

In fact, unlike in a regular fixed-term job, you don’t have to work your way up through salary ranks. This means that you’ll often start on a better pay-grade then you would if you worked there full time.

Locums also tend to get a better rate for overtime if there is any. Or if you agree to cover a shift last minute your pay will reflect this. Unlike a fixed-rate job where you might cover ‘as a favor’, you will receive financial compensation for your extra work.

All of this means that working as a locum can generate almost double the salary of a fixed-term colleague performing the same job.

4. The Pay Is Regular

You also don’t have to wait around for your pay. Depending on your contract a lot of agencies ensure that you receive your pay weekly rather than monthly.

This is a great perk if you’re worried about taking a break and needing to boost your funds quickly when you get back. Simply have a job lined up and the money will start coming in after a week!

Signing up with an agency also means they’ll take care of chasing up any unpaid hours. So you can focus on the task at hand.

5. You Can Pick Which Benefits You Pay For

A lot of fixed-term positions offer ‘benefits’ as part of their contract. For example, they might offer healthcare or insurance as part of the package.

But most employees don’t get a choice about whether or not to sign up to these. A company will pay a small portion of their regular wage towards these ‘benefits’. This means they aren’t perks or freebies at all!

But working as a locum doesn’t tie you into any such obligations. You can pay for what you want and need within your own life, such as insurance. And, if your situation changes, you have control over your policies.

6. If You Don’t Like the Environment You Can Leave!

If you don’t like your job quitting can feel like a daunting prospect. But with a locum position, you don’t have to worry about this.

Most contracts are short enough that if you don’t enjoy them then the end is already in sight. And if you really want to leave you can without having to work out an awkward notice period.

On top of this, you already know you’re in a position to find your next job! So you no longer have to be a slave to awkward workplace politics or annoying managers. You have more control over your work-life enjoyment.

7. You’re Never Bored

Working as a locum offers so much flexibility that you’ll rarely work in the same place twice. And with each new position, you’ll meet new colleagues and new patients.

This also means that you’ll always encounter new challenges and can forge fresh relationships. So it will keep your work-life vibrant!

8. A Good Agency Will Find the Work For You

When you finish one job you won’t be back at square one.

A good agency is the first port of call for any pharmacy looking for cover. So maintain a great relationship with your agent and they’ll put you forward for plenty of roles.

The clearer you are with an agency about the type of work you want, the easier it will be for them to find you roles that suit you. For example, if you only want to work for a week at a time tell them this. Or if you’d rather work longer contracts they’ll be able to hook you up with these as well!

9. You Might Get a Tax Break

In most jobs, the accounting department will automatically tax your pay. But working as a locum means you might actually be able to claim back some of this tax.

Working freelance means you don’t have a claims limit so you can claim any expense that allows you to work. This can include travel or phone bills. If you have to relocate for work you might even be able to reclaim some of your rent!

10. You’ll Get More Well-Rounded Experience

Last, but by no means least, working as a locum offers you an amazing opportunity to work in a variety of environments. Not only is this interesting for you, but it also helps you to grow as a pharmacist.

You’ll develop a better understanding of the entire pharmaceutical business. And this additional experience will help you to build better patient-relations than ever.

In this way, working as a locum is the ideal way to keep you on your toes and avoid letting your career stagnate.

The Bottom Line

Working as a locum pharmacist offers you better career satisfaction and flexibility. And by doing this, it can help you to become the best pharmacist that you can be.

Visit our careers page for more information on different pharmaceutical careers. Or get in touch today to register with one of the leading recruitment companies in Ireland!