Newly qualified Pharmacists in locum work pt. 1- why locum?

So it’s done- you’ve finally been released from the throes of education. You’ve studied diligently, slowly built your confidence in your own abilities, and now you’re ready to dive headfirst into the world of work as a qualified pharmacist.


But, like anything in life, it is not always simply a case up of wind-up and go. There are choices to be made, paths to consider, and the future to think about. Everybody is different and, after spending 5+ years studying, some may be raring to dip their toes into every pool of water going, whilst some may be seeking the security that comes with a permanent role in a fixed location. It pays to ask oneself what your career goals are- do they concern stability or growth?

That is not to suggest at all that stability and growth are mutually exclusive for a pharmacist, but let us ponder on the age-old cliché that it is not what you know, but who you know.


Pharmacy, like any industry, is primarily made up of ambitious individuals that are seeking to make the best of both their own skills and the opportunities offered to them. But with so many mitigating circumstances being necessary for career advancement, ‘opportunity’ does not always come knocking. Let us talk hypothetically for a moment. Take a small independent pharmacy- one in which our newly-qualified pharmacist has clinched a permanent position through being friendly with the proprietor and is now happily settled into. The pharmacists has clinched this role through a combination of what and who they know, but the small nature of this business may mean that, in terms of moving up, there is very little scope to do so, due to the positions being already filled and the occupants not planning to move on any time soon. In this instance, what might our pharmacist do to cast their nets wider; to fish from the ocean rather than the garden pond?

Well, if the answer isn’t rather obvious we’ll eat our mortarboards. Locum work brings with it 2 essential qualities that can aid a newly-qualified pharmacist in seeking to build their personal and professional profile: flexibility and variety. Flexibility enough to fit around an additional full or part-time position. Variety enough to ensure a diverse and impressive résumé for any locum willing to charter new and unfamiliar territory. For a pharmacist with an ambitious streak, it’s the difference between auditioning to an audience of one and to a full house.

There is a common misconception that locum work is a privilege of the experienced pharmacists; that newly-qualifieds are passed over in favour of older, longer-serving candidates. But from our experience this is not true. Consider that these fresh pharmacists qualify in the Summer- a time when demand for locums is at its peak. This serves as an ideal opportunity for these pharmacists to make hay whilst the sun shines, with many stores being keen to take on willing and able locums provided the take care and work to the standards expected. In fact, the high demand for locums in the Summer provides a prime opportunity for newly-qualified pharmacists to excel and establish an excellent foundation on which to build their career. Whilst the familiarising of oneself with new systems in ever-changing environments may seem daunting to a recent graduate, it is absolutely possible, and Team Locum are always on hand to provide support to our locums and answer any and all queries. The more positive and willing a locum is in their attitude, the more support they are likely to gain both from their agency and the stores. In layman’s terms: the more you put in, the more you get out. But perhaps what most needs stressing is this- being registered as a locum will increase the potential of work you can access, but it will not tie you down or have you obligated to living an exclusively self-employed life. It will allow for freedom of choice- and what could be more important when beginning a new career?

So with this in mind, what can a newly-qualified pharmacist do to ensure they’re fully prepared for registration with a locum agency? In our next post we’ll be looking at the registration process- the do’s, don’t, must-haves and must-nots. Head here for part 2.

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