It is a long journey to qualify as a pharmacist. After four years of training, a year of practice and passing the dreaded registration exam, newly graduated pharmacists can finally take their first steps in their professional lives as registered clinicians.
More than 2,000 candidates passed the June registration exam earlier this year. Together with 584 who successfully completed the assessment in November 2021 and 2,371 in June 2021, these candidates represent the freshest cohort of pharmacy staff in Britain.
Read More: GPhC and PSNI Announce 80% Pass Rate for Chaotic Registration Exam in June
But it has arguably never been more important to look at the work preferences of newly graduated pharmacists.
With many contractors lamenting that pharmacy positions are difficult to fill, and concerned about “rapidly increasing locum rates” as the debate over whether there is a shortage of pharmacists, it is critical to increase the community pharmacy workforce. to make it future-proof.
With anecdotal evidence that many newly qualified pharmacists are avoiding paid jobs and going to work for themselves, C+D spoke to three newly qualified pharmacists and a tutor to hear their views.
Better pay and more flexibility
PreReg Shortcuts co-founder and educator Marvin Munzu told C+D he’s noticed a “trend” where many of his interns are choosing to start their career in pharmacy as a locum before accepting permanent contracts.
This was a decision he decided to make himself when he joined the registry. Despite being offered a permanent position after completing his pre-registration training at Lloydspharmacy, he decided to become a substitute because of better hourly rates and the greater flexibility that came with the role, he said.
“After locating for a year, I was a lot better at negotiating my salary. I have also worked in different pharmacies and I was able to compare and choose the one that suited me best,” added Mr. Munzu.
Read more: Locum Pharmacists Rate Misery: How Much Are They Getting for Services?
Similarly, a newly licensed pharmacist – who wishes to remain anonymous – told C+D that they also chose to go the localization route, as they believe it allows them to earn more money and provide additional flexibility.
“L [already] had experience in community pharmacy,” they explained. “It was an easy role to get into, so not a big jump from a pre-registration pharmacist [role] get started as a registered pharmacist.”
Being a community pharmacists manager comes with its own responsibilities, “having to report back to HQ to meet targets, which is something I’m not interested in at the moment,” the pharmacist said.
“As a deputy, you don’t have these responsibilities,” they noted.
Much less stress
For pharmacist Viveak Sangar of Birmingham, who joined the register in January, the decision to start locuming was motivated by his view that it is generally less stressful to work as a substitute than to fill a full-time community pharmacist position. to take themselves.
Read more: Lloydspharmacy and Boots increase mileage as fuel prices remain skyrocketing
“This is mainly due to the workload versus the salary. Being continuously employed as a regular pharmacist requires much more service, responsibility and overall workload when managing [the pharmacy]also compared to the pay received for efforts,” Mr. Sangar told C+D.
In addition, he finds that locating offers a better work-life balance “because one is apparently able to choose one’s own hours, negotiate salary and decide where best to work” – for example by avoiding areas that are notorious for pharmacists and staff who abuse patients, he added.
Bad experience as a temporary pharmacist
A locum pharmacist who has been on the registry for just over a week and has asked to be named SJ told C+D that their decision to work as a locum follows a difficult experience as a pharmacist manager.
Within this role – which SJ fulfilled when they were on the provisional register – they only worked with one dispenser and had two interns that they had to train themselves.
“I had a lot of pressure from the head office about service; I struggled. So I’ve decided not to become a full-time pharmacist or pharmacy manager until I’m comfortable or familiar with a pharmacy and the business,” SJ added.
In addition, localization gives them the opportunity to potentially explore a career as a hospital pharmacist as they spend part of their time working in an outpatient hospital pharmacy.
What would cause locums to consider a permanent role?
Mr Sangar told C+D that he would only consider a full-time role in community pharmacy if there was “a move towards more private services, now including prescribing”.
He thinks this would lead to more pharmacists working in an industry, “leading to shorter working hours and better work-life balance”.
Meanwhile, another anonymous, newly licensed pharmacist told C+D that they would consider a full-time position in a community pharmacy if they received a salary higher than the salary currently available. They feel that most pharmacists are underpaid for the work they do to “keep the pharmacy afloat, in addition to dealing with all the NHS cuts”.
“A four-day work week and also more career opportunities funded by the company,” such as clinical training, would be welcome, she added.
Go to C+D’s sixth major debate, which asked: is there a shortage of community pharmacists?
Staffing issues in community pharmacy remain a hot topic, with some arguing that it is due to a shortage of pharmacists, while others say there is a lack of pharmacists willing to work in the sector in its current state.
Whether the newly qualified pharmacists have been afraid to consider a full-time job in community pharmacy or whether starting as a substitute is simply more attractive, it’s up to pharmacy owners to devise ways to make their full-time positions more attractive to the pharmacists of the future. .