They say home is where the heart is, but could it also be the future site of your next job?

The way we work in pharmacy is fundamentally changing. Pharmacists now do much more “beyond the vial” or “beyond the pill.” We work in compliance, regulatory, clinical operations, health economics, clinical research, medical affairs, and managed care, to name just a few growing areas of pharmacy practice.

With all the variety in health care, coupled with technology, the internet, and the ability to work anywhere with a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection, the exciting news for pharmacists is that they are no longer limited to working in the confines of a pharmacy. Even better, pharmacy jobs both now and in the future may offer a very short commute: from your kitchen or bedroom right to your home office!

An anonymous pharmacist who has practiced for 16 years in addition to 2 years of residency recently took her first job working from home (in one of the roles described below) for a large health care system. “Working from home is an awesome opportunity, especially for a parent who already has limited time with her kids,” she told me. “I now have more flexibility with my time and a shorter workday, since there is no commute, and I can save money on dry cleaning and new clothes!”

She decided last year that it was time to switch to a telecommute position. “I often had to work around dentist appointments, field trips, and after-school activities, and it was becoming more and more difficult to manage my time without it interfering with my job,” she explained. “I knew that working from home would allow me the freedom to run errands over the lunch hour, move my lunch hour to account for appointments, and help me gain almost an hour in time where I no longer have to drive to and from work and pick up my kids.”
 
Her new situation presents its own challenges, however. “The two things that you have to learn to manage when working from home are the lack of coworker contact and the ability to stay focused on the tasks at hand,” she said. “By taking advantage of instant messaging regularly with coworkers and having 4 or 5 phone meetings per week, it does help you maintain personal contact. I also feel creating a dedicated work space in the house is imperative to success when working from home.”

I’ve worked from home before in business development roles and as a field-based medical science liaison, and I agree that it is important to have a dedicated office space with a door. It’s good to literally close the door after a long day at work and walk away.

While working from home is not for everyone, it could be a great option for many, depending on where they are in their careers and what they expect from their work. If you want to pursue it, here are 6 possibilities to explore.
  1. Managed care and health care insurers. Many big health insurance companies are hiring pharmacists who work remotely or from home, including in the realms of prior authorization analysis, fraud and abuse investigations, and clinical and pipeline analysis of new drugs for formulary management.
  2. Community and retail pharmacy. Telemedicine and telepharmacy are finally taking off, and you might be able to work for a large retail chain from home.
  3. Specialty. Consulting gigs in and around the bustling area of specialty pharmacy allow you to work from home.
  4. Industry. The pharmaceutical and biotech industries offer many home-based jobs, including medical science liaisons that sit out in the field at many companies. Sales offers pharmacists another route to working at home.
  5. Contract clinical research organizations (CROs). If clinical research is your passion, check out CROs to see if they offer at-home positions for clinical research associates, medical monitors, or pharmacovigilance professionals.
  6. Side jobs. Pharmacists can land gigs such as writing, editing, reviewing, or consulting—all done from home.
The options are many and growing. So, as you plan your next career move, consider a at-home option; your next job could be literally just around the corner!
 
Erin Albert, PharmD, JD, MBA, is a health outcomes pharmacist, an attorney, a writer, co-host of the Pharmacy Podcast, a speaker, an entrepreneur, and president of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) Indiana Chapter. For more about her, see her website, www.erinalbert.com.