Benefits of Becoming a Per Diem Pharmacist

by Jennifer Bradford on February 11, 2010

Since I began writing on this blog, I’ve found much more to talk about with my local pharmacist. We discuss a variety of pharmacy topics when I go in to refill prescriptions several times a month. Before, it was the usual “how are you doing” kind of conversation, and now I use him as a source of inspiration and information. Recently, I was telling him about some of the blog posts I’d been writing and mentioned temporary nursing positions. I asked him if he knew about them, and he did. Then we started discussing about how the same type of arrangement is also available for pharmacists. He said it had never interested him much, because he likes where he lives, but that he’d known several people who enjoyed the variety. He had similar things to say about becoming a per diem pharmacist, and mentioned that their pharmacy employed them from time to time when someone was sick or was scheduled for vacation.


Oddly, I had never noticed if someone different was busily filling my prescriptions, but then again, I hadn’t really started having conversations with my pharmacist every visit until recently. I usually deal with the pharmacy technician or cashier unless I have a specific question about the medications. I must admit I was intrigued. I asked if he could tell me why people were interested in becoming a per diem pharmacist. Some of the answers reminded me of what nurses I know have to say and others seemed more specific to the world of pharmaceuticals.


Most people don’t associate travel as a benefit inherent in the pharmacy profession, and typically it isn’t. However, as a per diem pharmacist one is able to visit any area of the country. It’s a great way to visit a wide range of places with very little cost to oneself.


Many of the per diem pharmacists that have visited my local pharmacy have apparently retired from other full time positions. They are able to keep active without having to work any times that are inconvenient for them.


Some of the younger pharmacists that have visited my pharmacy cited boredom as their primary reason for leaving a permanent position. The very specific nature of the job makes it mentally exhausting and, at times, tedious. Routinely being in a different environment helped ease that boredom and allowed them to experience pharmacies in areas such as clinics, hospitals, and a variety of other settings.

Regional Differences

While I certainly never realized this, apparently different regions of the countries tend to prefer different medications. Not something I’m overly interested in, but it’s apparently pretty interesting stuff for a pharmacist. The antibiotics, pain relievers, anxiety medications, and a host of other medications often show specific regional favorites. These trends can be quite interesting to watch.

After talking to my pharmacist, I realized flexibility and freedom can be a powerful draw as well as observing the subtle differences from one type of pharmacy to another and even from one region to another.  Which of these, or other, reasons sound appealing to you?


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Dichtel 02.25.10 at 2:31 am

I think per diem work is a good way to experience different work environments and learn new ideas. Also, you can try different positions and see what is a good fit for you. The travel aspect sounds like fun too, but after a while it is nice to be connected to a single area and settle down too. Of course I have never settled down, so maybe I will meet someone as I travel around!!

Jennifer Bradford 02.25.10 at 10:25 am

Hey Paul, thanks for commenting. Good luck with your travels and new experiences!

Howard M Ecker 03.09.10 at 12:37 pm

I was at my home desk , wondering what I can do to take a different path in pharmacy / healthcare. I noticed a magnet for I had put on the filing cabinet , maybe 5-10 years ago and ignored it. After filling out the online form, I arrived here. This is the first time I ever took time for a blog, but possibly my epiphany can help folks, including myself. For years, I traveled on business ; mostly corporate executive sales in pharmacy services and pharmaceuticals. I kept my license all those years and re-entered direct practice a few years ago as a Retail Chain pharmacist . Its OK…but just ” having a job” is not enough. I want to experience , grow and learn. I began studies in Geriatric Pharmacy thru the ASCP. But really being ready for a board style certification, is going to take time. Do I remain ” stuck” in chain pharmacy? Do I seek a position in Long Term Care ? As for – Traveling, temporary, per diem— I had considered all the positives mentioned in your article, ( I Love Travel) BUT – I had never worked away from home-base for more that 1 to 2 weeks. A lot of personal management issues have been answered by the internet. I’m pretty much ” cloud based” now ; regarding finances,investments, files,software, etc. The next step for me is really understanding first-hand experiences. Can you or your followers lead me to other Blogs, articles or contacts– where I can get detail on how folks handle the day-to-day while being away from home-base for 4 to 13 weeks. I probably don’t know the questions that need to be answered.

Jamie P. Rakes 03.10.10 at 11:17 pm

Hi Howard, starting traveling can be pretty overwhelming. Knowing the questions to ask, who to ask, and things of that nature are pretty much unknowns to someone just starting out. So, to help you, (and I was made aware of this post, so im not spamming you), if you have a facebook account, here is a group i recently started called Traveling Medical Professionals. Between this group and myself (you can message me on facebook anytime), you should be able to find almost all the answers that you seek about traveling. The address is!/group.php?gid=75133668820 If you have Facebook, then join my group, and starting nosing around, the more you read on there, the more it may spark the correct questions in you to ask. Otherwise, feel free to email me at and i’ll help you as much as I can.

Good Luck,
Jamie P. Rakes

Howard M Ecker 03.11.10 at 11:29 am

Jamie– thanks for the response. I’m going to join Traveling Medical Professionals. on Facebook and thanks for the email connection, also. Don’t know when I will get back to this blog anytime soon. I don’t know what to ask…but that’s OK. I’ve been in Central America and the Amazon basin — but there you’re not looking for ATMs and Launderies while you’re working ! Exchange is always good for everyone; so for all my fellow Travelers, here’s my email- . H.

Howard M Ecker 03.11.10 at 11:33 am

oops typo – –

travel nursing jobs 11.15.11 at 12:36 pm

those are some really good reasons to try it out – thanks for including them!


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