There are many advantages in working as a locum. Principally, it means being your own boss and having the ability to work when and where you like. You can work as many or as few hours as you wish, and to a large extent you can control your own income. This is useful both when you want extra money to pay for a holiday or a new kitchen or when you want a day off to watch your son or daughter take part in school sports; that level of freedom is worth a lot. Another advantage is that you can usually leave the pharmacy behind at the end of the working day and not go home to a pile of paperwork. Undoubtedly, however, the biggest advantage is the experience of working in a variety of locations and different types of pharmacies. Every pharmacy is unique — in its location, layout, clientele and the way it is managed. You can also gain a range of professional experiences that would be more difficult to achieve in one permanent position, and this allows you to find out what type or sector of pharmacy you most enjoy working in before committing yourself to a permanent job.
However, locum work has its pitfalls. First your hours of work can fluctuate considerably. If you are booked for the whole day, this means working for the whole of the pharmacy’s opening hours, which can be anything from 9am until 5pm, or from 8am until 10pm. You may also be expected to work after opening hours, delivering medicines to patients’ homes and to residential and nursing homes. This can have a huge impact on your social life. You also need to adapt to different surroundings and different systems. The travelling and finding the pharmacy, especially if you are frequently working in different places, can be challenging, and working with different computer systems and different point of sale systems and burglar alarms can be daunting.