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Traveling Pharmacy: A Pharmacist’s Perspective

  • June 5, 2009
  • RPh on the Go

Hi. My name’s Cyrus Pacis. I’m an RPh on the Go pharmacist and will be taking over the blogging here starting today.

I started with humble beginnings as a pharmacist. I once believed getting a job and staying with that job till retirement was the norm, but I found it totally not fulfilling. Complacency is the evil that we all share in the work place. It brings boredom, which leads to careless mistakes. It brings laziness, which leads to animosities among co-workers.

For the first 11 years as a pharmacist, I found myself in that trap of being complacent. Each one of us went through this. Haven’t you noticed doing the same mundane routine day in and day out? Haven’t you noticed some co-workers are getting on your nerves? Haven’t you noticed questioning yourself if this is the best it can get? Well, that was me.

During my first 11 years as a pharmacist, I started as a hospital pharmacist. To supplement my income, I worked part-time for an independent pharmacy. Once I saw the difference between hospital pharmacy and retail pharmacy, I picked up extra hours working part-time for a mail-order pharmacy. Yes, I have been called a workaholic and would not recommend this type of lifestyle if you are married and have kids and love to see them every night. By the time I became a traveling pharmacist, I had experience working in sectors like hospital, retail, consultant pharmacy, mail order, home infusion, and academics.

It was a friend who told me that I should put my experience to better use and be a traveling pharmacist. As it was back then, there is and will be a continuing shortage of pharmacists nationwide. With the “baby boomers” retiring and the elderly population living longer, we will be seeing an influx of 7.2 billion prescriptions to be filled each year by 2020. It is also reported that in the United States there will be a shortage of 160,000 pharmacists by 2020. As of 2008, there are 106 pharmacy schools nationwide. Ironically, these schools will not produce enough pharmacists to meet the demands. That is why I chose to be a traveling pharmacist because there will be always a need. There are many levels of traveling pharmacists. There are pharmacists who want to stay local, some want seasonal work, others that want a flexible part time schedule, and there are others like me who want to do 40 hours weeks full time.

The benefits to be a traveling pharmacist outweighs the cons. I enjoy working 13-week assignments full-time and moving from one exciting city to another. That itself mutes any form of complacency. Besides the pay being exceptional, I also get a tax-free money for meals. If I decide to use my own vehicle and find my own lodging, the agency will pay me a tax-free stipend. If I decided not to use my own vehicle or lazy to find lodging, the agency will provide it to me free of charge. Of course there are problems. I find that after the assignment ends, you may get another assignment that is not of your liking. Sometimes the fear of not getting another assignment can cause anyone to stress out. The biggest problem I come across is the perception by employers that some traveling pharmacists are not experience to adapt to an every changing environment. I am very fortunate that my background has helped me propelled into this industry with satisfying results.

The most rewarding satisfaction from my assignments occurs when the employer wants to hire me on the spot, repeatedly extend my contract, or they call the agency requesting only for me to return back at that site. That is the highest form of flattery, which is my motivation and drive. I have been a traveling pharmacist for nine years now with regrets not starting this sooner.

Cyrus Pacis is a pharmacist who often works on long-term relief pharmacy jobs through RPh on the Go.

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