IN July this year, it’ll be 4 years since I qualified as a pharmacist. They say time flies when you are having fun, and time most definitely has flown in! It feels like only last week that I passed the registration examination and had tough choices to make regarding my career direction.
July 2012 was a difficult time for the pharmacy profession: the effect of the global recession meant pharmacist jobs were few and far between. It was also a time when record number of pharmacists were leaving the profession for bigger and better things.
After qualifying I, like many other newly qualified pharmacists, joined the workforce as a locum and undertook community pharmacy work. It suited me perfectly, as it allowed me to accrue experience of working within a vast network of pharmacies. It also provided me with a flexible income at a time when permanent employment was simply not an option.
It was during my time working as a locum that I learned that the main way of obtaining locum work was by travelling around a number of pharmacies and handing out your business card. This practice was based on the assumption that in the event of cover being needed, the manager would use your card details to contact you for availability. I simply could not believe that this archaic process still existed and why no company had solved the problem of matching pharmacists to employers.
So, I simply thought: Why not set one up?
Fast forward four years and Locate a Locum (www.locatealocum.com) is helping over 1,200 pharmacists and pharmacy owners connect with one another for both temporary and permanent work.
For me, being an entrepreneurial pharmacist is one of the most rewarding career decisions I have ever made. However, when pharmacists qualify and look at their career options, does entrepreneurship even appear on the list?
Let me take you back to previous times, long before large pharmacy chains dominated the sector and pharmacy regulation was so controlled. After graduating as a pharmacist you typically went on to own and operate your own pharmacy. You were responsible for making your own extemporaneous preparations to attract new customers. You essentially created a new business and would have had some form of financial risk. This is the essential definition of being an entrepreneur.
Today with recent media coverage surrounding pharmacy in the UK, you cannot help but feel a little gloomy about the impending cuts on our profession.
Could the pharmacy profession benefit from more entrepreneurial minded pharmacists aka “pharmapreneurs”?
My opinion is most certainly YES! Pharmacy needs pharmacists to disrupt the profession to create more entrepreneurial roles so as to bring about more positive change. With recent advances in technology, pharmacists now, more than ever, have so many opportunities available to help them shape the future delivery model of healthcare. All it takes is a good idea mixed with a little bit of guts and determination.
There is nothing that can prepare you for starting a business. Of course you can read all the business books you want, but you will only learn by doing. It’s a bit like being back in university in the pharmacy practical classes – you learn by your mistakes. It’s good to remember that a mistake is only a problem if it happens twice.
So, next time you sit down to decide which direction you would like your career to go, why not engage with your inner entrepreneurial pharmacist spirit and get to work!
Jonathon Clarke is Managing Director and Pharmacist of Locate a locum. An online platform connecting pharmacists with employers across the UK
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