Floater Pharmacist Pros and Cons

If you've received a job offer to become a floating pharmacist, here are some pros and cons to consider before you accept it.

Many new pharmacy school graduates entering the retail space spend a small portion of their careers working as floating pharmacists until they are assigned staff positions.

Between interning and being a pharmacist, I’ve met dozens of floating pharmacists and have shared their experience myself.

If you’ve received a job offer to become a floating pharmacist, here are some pros and cons to consider before you accept it:

Pros

1. You get to meet more fellow pharmacists and technicians.

It’s always great to get to know new colleagues. Pharmacy is a small world, so it’s always beneficial to build more bridges.

2. You learn more efficient policies and procedures.

Floater pharmacists can go into any store and execute any aspect of running a pharmacy, create patient relationships, promote vaccinations, or simply complete daily tasks in a more timely fashion. Every new store is a new opportunity.

3. You can make a positive name for yourself.

You have the opportunity to make a positive impression on patients and staff that exceeds expectations for a floating pharmacist. It’s always great to come into a store, do a great job, and have the pharmacy manager request you back whenever there is an open shift.

Eventually, those positive comments will spread throughout stores and increase your chances of securing a home store.

4. You build confidence.

Floating allows you to decide what kind of pharmacist you want to be. Each day, you can adjust your leadership style until you are comfortable.

5. There’s always a change of scenery.

You won’t ever get bored or fall into a monotonous routine because you will have different staff, different patients, and different expectations every day.

6. You have less responsibility and liability.

It is sometimes reassuring to be able to pass difficult decisions to the staff pharmacist or pharmacy manager.

Cons

1. You can never find anything.

It’s hard to find supplies if you are by yourself. I love to give vaccinations, but it’s difficult to provide them when you can’t find all the supplies you need.

I feel like I’m always playing a game of hide and seek with Band-Aids and alcohol wipes. Where are the staples, you ask? I don’t have a clue.

2. It’s harder to form patient relationships.

It’s difficult to get to know your patient population and provide continuous care when you could very easily never see a particular patient again. If by some luck you do get to provide services to them again, chances are they won’t remember you.

3. Patients will want to speak with regular staff instead.

Some patients just want to speak with the technician they’ve known for 15 years. When you’re rotating stores almost every shift, you aren’t a familiar face to patients, which can unfortunately affect their care.

One of the stores I work at has an amazing pharmacist who has been vaccinating the majority of patients for years. Sometimes, patients will turn down a vaccine from you because they only want a particular pharmacist to vaccinate them.

4. You’re the first to blame.

Someone once told me, “You’re the punching bag of the district.” I’ve been very fortunate to not be treated poorly, but I’ve heard horror stories from fellow floater colleagues.

5. You travel far and have random hours.

Since you are covering for the staff pharmacists who took off, your hours and location change every week. I’ve even seen my schedule change on my way to a shift.

6. Each store has different policies.

At one store, patients who sit in the waiting area are considered waiters, while another store defines waiters as those who are coming back within the hour. Some stores allow controlled substance prescriptions to be filled 2 days early (within state regulation), while other stores hold such prescriptions to the day, and you don’t want to be known as the pharmacist who will fill them early.

Sometimes, I need a flow chart to keep everything straight. I completely rely on my technicians to give me the rundown when I come in.

For everyone who is currently floating or will become a floater pharmacist, it’s important to look at every situation and store as a learning experience. You will most likely be staffed at one of your stores someday, so it is important to create the best environment for patients and coworkers while becoming knowledgeable of each store’s culture.