One of the ways in which a newly qualified pharmacist can quickly gain a wealth of experience, is through locum work.
It’s not difficult for a newly qualified pharmacist to register with an agency as a locum.
One major advantage new pharmacists have is that they qualify, and thus approach agencies, in the summer, when the demand for locums is at its peak.
In fact, we found that the statistics for inactivity among new agency registrants did not significantly rise immediately after the newly qualified locums became available. Especially taking into account the impact an influx of new pharmacists has on the market’s overall supply and demand ratio, it appears that newly qualified pharmacists are not at an inherent disadvantage in the locum world – especially if they approach the right agency, early, well prepared. Let’s take a realistic look at how a new pharmacist can prepare…
FIRST THINGS FIRST
It’s highly likely that a newly qualified pharmacist interested in locuming will begin by approaching a specialist locum agency. However, not all locum agencies are alike. The key factor with an agency (from the locum’s side) is the size of its client-base. Agencies with small or limited client-bases may well be happy to sign up a locum, but available work could be in very short supply. The registration processes for bigger, busier and more professional agencies are likely to be more rigorous, but taking the quickest route is likely to be a false economy.
REGISTERING WITH THE AGENCY
Agency registration processes vary, but pharmacists should be wary of processes that are too easy, that don’t request evidence of key professional accreditations, or that don’t require references. Here’s what a newly qualified pharmacist should expect to provide during registration with a professional agency…
- Identification and proof of the right to work.
- Evidence of GPhC registration.
- Evidence of valid Indemnity Insurance..
The documentation is typically supplied online, in an electronic image format such as JPEG or PDF.
Whilst the above items have for long been considered the essentials, there’s a list of other accreditations, without which a new pharmacist will find it difficult to secure bookings. They are…
DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) checked status. Team Locum can arrange this on request.
An EPS2 Smartcard with a FFFFF locum user role profile. Without this, a pharmacist will not have personal access to the Electronic Prescription Service (Release 2) system, and as a result, most pharmacies will be reluctant to book them. If you have difficulty obtaining a FFFFF EPS2 card, Team Locum should be able to help.
Visit the TEAM LOCUM HOMEPAGE for more info.
GAINING GREATER ADVANTAGE
Once a pharmacist’s agency registration is complete, They should pretty swiftly receive a call from a Bookings Consultant, to discuss work options. The consultant will enquire about your availability for a couple of months.
The consultants then will work to source work that is tailored and beneficial to yourself.
What you’re going to be doing in six weeks’ time may not seem that important at present, but projected availability is the absolute cornerstone of locum work, and can be the difference between regular bookings and no bookings at all.
Team Locum provides an online calendar, which allows locums to set or update their availability at their own convenience. Any data a locum marks on the calendar pushes through to the main control systems at the agency office, so the Bookings Team can see at a glance whether or not that locum is available for a given vacancy.
Locums’ travel expectations can vary widely. Some new locums are prepared to travel distances of between 50 and 80 miles. Perhaps more. Others, meanwhile, feel that more than 20 miles is too great a journey, and the odd few may feel that even 15 miles is a stretch. Team Locum will ask about a registrant’s travel radius when they submit their application.
In densely-populated areas with high client demand and low locum supply, a modest travel radius is feasible. In areas such as the West Midlands, the lower end of the radius scale among regularly working locums tends to be around 40 miles. Setting a higher radius, if possible, is going to greatly aid a newly qualified pharmacist in getting started within a highly competitive area.
Along the South Coast, into Devon and Cornwall, up to Bristol and South Wales, then similarly from Kent up the East Coast of England, there are many hotspots where locums will find it very easy to sustain a regular timetable. There are more hotspot districts in our Career Advancement article.
Don’t forget that for long distances, travel expenses may well be payable.
Payment rates are of course agreed and confirmed in advance of each booking, but they vary from region to region, and in some cases from season to season. A professional agency will be able to give advice on the general trends in a given location.
The locum will be dealing directly with clients when it comes to payment (most typically leaving an invoice at the store or establishment). But the good news is that a professional agency will step in to help when their locums have problems getting paid. Particularly for a new pharmacist, it’s great to have that reassurance. For their own sake as well as their locums’, agencies will not want to be dealing with clients who have trouble paying.
We’ve provided an overview of how locums get paid, but in case you’re wondering how the agency makes money, it simply charges the client a set booking fee for each booking it facilitates. The locum always gets 100% of the hourly rate agreed for the booking, straight from the client.
SUMMARY AND CHECKLIST
Locum work does give newly qualified pharmacists a fantastic opportunity to spring into immediate action, whilst building an enviable level of control over their careers. And because locum work is rich in contacts, it can also prove a natural platform for career progression.
Here’s a quick checklist, which should ensure you cover all the bases which often prevent locums from securing bookings…
- Have you provided the agency with all your professional accreditations?
- Have you ensured that the locum agency is aware of your exact availability?
- Are you easy to contact, or quick to respond to ALL messages you can’t answer immediately?
- Is your travel mileage radius realistic for your area?
- Is your minimum payment rate set in the right place?
If you’re expecting to qualify this summer, and have any further questions, you can contact us via [email protected] or call us on 0121 451 2707