If you've ever considered the idea of volunteering, you plans may have been hindered by work commitments and a lack of free time. It's no secret that locuming opens up a world of possibilities in terms of flexibility for pharmacists, and what better way to put that time off to use than to volunteer abroad and extend your helping hand to those in third-world countries?
Ellen Gilmartin, a qualified pharmacist with three years of experience, set off on a unique journey when her decision to locum allowed her to make a difference for an entire month over in Ghana. Her experiences shed light on the numerous benefits that come with choosing locuming as a career path, which offers flexibility, opportunities adventure, and personal growth.
Ellen didn't jump headfirst into locuming; instead, like many others, she initially took on a permanent job, working three days a week. However, the appeal of locum work was always present, and she started picking up occasional shifts alongside her permanent position. Eventually, last August, she made the bold decision to transition into full-time locuming. This balanced approach made her journey into locuming less daunting, but also granted her the opportunity to organise her work days how she saw fit.
While working a full-time job, Ellen had the drive to volunteer abroad, but this dream remained out of reach due to work commitments. Locuming opened up this opportunity for her.
"Volunteering was always something I wanted to do, and then I figured, because I'm a full time locum, that this is the time to do it."
In January, she set off for Ghana, where she wanted to try something different to her normal day job, and spent a month working at a school instead. Her days were spent providing meals to underprivileged children, and offering them an education. This altruistic adventure was a life-changing experience and a testament to the flexibility that locuming offers.
One might assume that pharmacists are always tied to work, but Ellen's story shows otherwise. As a locum, you have to opportunity to work a schedule that suits you and your lifestyle. Ellen planned her trip for mid January, giving herself time to work shifts at the beginning of the year, and upon her return, to ensure financial stability throughout her endeavour.
"I'd love to go again! I’d go again in the morning! I would love to even try another country in Africa, or they're always asking to come back to Ghana as well."
During her volunteer stint in Ghana, she had weekends off, allowing her to explore the country. She visited historic sites like the Cape Coast castles and natural wonders like waterfalls, enriching her cultural and travel experiences - something that would be a lot more difficult to achieve when tied to a full time contract.
To soon-to-be graduates and newly qualified pharmacists, Ellen offers valuable insights. She recommends considering a blend of permanent and locum work to ease the transition into locuming, allowing you to "get the best of both worlds". While locum work might seem daunting at first, Ellen emphasises the importance of networking and seeking guidance from experienced colleagues.
"Even if you are fresh out of college, you can do it! It’s scary for the first few days, but there will always be someone you can seek help from if you need to."
The support and camaraderie within the pharmacy community ensure that you are never alone in your journey.
Ellen's story highlights the freedom and adventure that comes with locuming as a pharmacist. It's a career path that offers the flexibility to pursue personal passions, whether it's volunteering abroad or exploring new horizons. For those with an adventurous spirit and a desire for professional independence, locuming can be an incredibly rewarding choice. Ellen's journey serves as an inspiring example of what can be achieved when you embrace the world of locum pharmacy.
If you enjoyed this read, you may be interested in finding out other avenues you can take as a locum pharmacist or agency nurse. We have a number of other interviews from our locums depicting how the flexibility of locuming has allowed them to do everything from cycle in competitive races, to opening their own surf and yoga studios. Read more at the link below.