I love to travel as much as possible for as long as possible. I am also a pharmacist who went to school for 7 years to get a doctorate in pharmacy & have a profession.
After the question, “how did you save money to quit your 40 hour per week job & travel?” the second most frequently asked question is, “what kind of job do you have that allows you to travel for so long & so often??”
I usually respond to that question with “I have the job of a retired person & I work whenever I feel like working.” Lucky me, right?? It’s a seriously sweet life! But that’s only the condensed answer.
The full truth of the story is revealed here.
After moving to Portland, OR last summer & dishing out a lot of money to have my pharmacy license transferred from Texas, I knew it would only be a matter of months before the travel bug would bite & I would be ready to take off to South America. Search after search turned up job opportunities that looked eerily similar to the one I had fled from in Texas.
With the help of my 12-year-old, problem solving prodigy of a cousin & Google, I came up with a list of criteria that my future job must meet.
My future job in Portland must:
- Be temporary
- Not be a direct-to-hire opportunity
- Allow me to travel for months at a time & return to work afterwards.
As someone who only has work experience in community pharmacy, this kind of job arrangement was a bit tricky to find. There are many staffing agencies touting temporary work for pharmacists & other healthcare professionals. For pharmacists, perhaps one of the most well known, nationwide agencies is RPh on the Go. However, many searches turned up temporary jobs that required previous work in hospital or clinical pharmacy. Many available temp jobs I came across were also direct-to-hire, which means the company will temporarily hire you through an agency with the idea that they will eventually place you in a permanent position after a set time period.
I considered trying to get a foot in the door with Indian Health Services (IHS). Because this is a federally funded program, pharmacists & other healthcare professionals only need to hold a valid, up to date license in one state, not necessarily the state where they are assigned to work. Assignments typically last 3 to 6 months & are usually in very remote places. This could be a great opportunity for any healthcare professional who loves to travel as much as I do & has the ability to pack up & go on a whim. IHS positions are difficult to find, as previous IHS experience is usually required.
Through an agency, I was also called about a 3 month job back in Texas– how ironic. At the time, I had no qualms about moving back to Texas & desperately needed a job. Nothing tied me to Portland. What I was concerned about was the pushy rep on the phone, who tried to force me to say that I would consider direct-to-hire or not be considered for the position at all.
I knew what I wanted & I stood my ground. In the end, it was not a good fit for me.
After many countless, futile Google searches, I was finally put in touch with Jamie at Career Staff Rx. Career Staff Rx is a pharmacy recruiting agency based in Seattle, WA. They are owned by a nation-wide company, Genesis Healthcare. Genesis Healthcare staffs all healthcare professions.
After interviewing with Jamie over the phone, I was pleased to find out that the job fit all of my above mentioned criteria. Jamie was looking to hire a community pharmacist to fill in for day shifts at various locations & companies.
Ideally, I would have liked to work in a full time position at one location for a few months & then leave at the end of the assignment. However, at the time, Career Staff did not have this kind of opportunity for a community pharmacist.
After answering all of my questions, Jamie said, “I think you are a perfect fit for this kind of work!” I was hired as an agency pharmacist taking day shifts for three main clients- Safeway, Rite Aid, & The Multnomah County Clinics. Occasionally, opportunities for other day shifts came up.
The cons to this type of work
- Lack of job security
- There were a few weeks where only 1 or 2 shifts were available. Most of the time, I was able to find at least 20 to 30 hours of work per week or more.
- Lack of health benefits
- Lack of paid vacation
For these reasons, the job is not always so glamorous. I occasionally wondered if I would reach my target money saving goal in time for my scheduled departure in mid December 2016.
Living very minimally, I was able to reach my savings goal. You can read more about my minimalist lifestyle & how I accomplished this in my next blog post!
Whether you’re a recent college graduate, hold a master’s degree, or are well established in your profession, if you are looking to find a job that allows you flexibility & time to travel, there are a few recommendations you can take from this blog post.
- Be clear & specific about what you’re looking for in a job.
- Be patient in the job hunt– the right job will find you!
- Have confidence in your skills & training. Know what you want & stand your ground until you find it.
Finally, I have been working with my fabulous entrepreneurial coach & friend, Cheryl Jackson, for 3 years. She has walked with me through every step of the process & I can’t recommend her enough. Although based in Denver, she works via phone/skype & Google Docs. Check her out here:
I frequently tell Cheryl that this life wouldn’t be possible without her, to which she always responds, “Honey! This is not me. This is all you!”