The Challenges of being a Locum

I have written a previous blog about what I feel the advantages of being a locum pharmacist are. There are also inherent challenges that need to be acknowledged and avenues explored as how to overcome and best tackle these challenges. In this blog I will outline what I can consider the main challenges of being a locum and how I continuously address these issues to ensure I continue to enjoy my career as a locum.

1)      The element of work Insecurity.

The main challenge people sometimes say about locuming is the work insecurity.  With locuming there is no guarantee that you will still be at the same site or have the same role in a few weeks time. Most agencies will require one to two week notice - and although this can most definitely be very useful time period to search for new work - not having that full sense of security can be disconcerting to some. However, this is the true nature of locuming; that is to help sustain healthcare services during gaps in employments and various projects - so my advice would be to fully accept this and embrace it. By fully accepting and embracing the insecurity aspect of locuming, I find this helps a person to keep a positive mindset on their work and sites may appreciate that positivity. I have had locum experiences that have lasted for a year and others that have lasted a month. I have embraced each one accepting that I have no control over the contract length. Because of the element of flexibility as where to work and maintaining my core pharmacy transferable skills, finding work has thankfully never been an issue for me. 

2)      The challenge of getting up to speed quickly.

Commonly, when locums are required for a role the induction period, depending on the role, may not be as long in duration as that for permanent staff members. This requires heightened quick learning and strong communication skills to ensure you can get working in the new role in a quick, safe and efficient manner. The useful things I find very helpful are to ensure that you communicate your previous experience concisely to the new manager, ensure that you get very familiar with the site's standard operating procedures and additionally maximise the use of the induction time by asking as many questions as possible, shadowing a fellow staff member and familiarising yourself with the site.

3)      It’s all new to me

Someone once said to me that it must be difficult working as a locum as everything must always seem ''new'' to me - as the contract length can vary from a couple of months to a year. This can appear daunting to some people but for me it really is what I appreciate the most about being a locum. Working at different locations, on different teams, experiencing new areas of work that I have not had the opportunity to work with before and meeting people from all different backgrounds and experiences - is what I really enjoy most about locuming.




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