50 years a pharmacist: meet locum Alan

A Half-Century Journey in Pharmacy: Meet Locum Alan Lewis

After working as a pharmacist for 50 years, Alan Lewis knows a thing or two about the industry. We caught up with him to find out about his career highlights, his advice, and the role of Locumate in shaping the future of pharmacy. 

Tell us about yourself? 

Next week I’ll be 50 years a pharmacist, so that makes me 21 years old (laughs). I’m one of those rare people that really enjoy what I’m doing. 

This year, I’ve been doing a lot of vaccinations. I’ve done about 800 vaccinations to date this year, and I love it. I’ve got a humanitarian approach; lots of people are hesitant or nervous, so I try to make people feel very comfortable, and always try to distract them with a chat so they don’t realise the needle is going in. 

Why did you decide to pursue a career in pharmacy? 

Growing up, I had a very sick mother and I would often go to the pharmacy for her. We lived about 20 metres from a pharmacy so I’d go and get her scripts dispensed. It was one of those old-fashioned pharmacies with bottles of liquid in them, it was a very small shop. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t very clever for a child to be picking up psychotropic medications! 

In my third year of school, I had a teacher who said that “whatever you choose in life, make sure it’s something where you help other people.” That really resonated with me. All the kids I went to school with ended up doing medicine or pharmacy. My brother – a year ahead of me at school – did pharmacy and he had a very successful business for close to 45 years. I encouraged him to do pharmacy and I’m glad he did! 

Tell us about your role now? 

I’m a locum pharmacist and I also do home medication reviews. I’m very hands on, progressive, and like putting people at the centre. I’ve always done locuming. It’s a bit of a break away from my consulting work and it keeps me in touch with reality, it keeps me at the forefront. 

If someone was considering a career in pharmacy, what would you say to them? 

I think the one single characteristic someone needs to work in pharmacy is empathy. You have to care. Patients can feel empathy. You can’t be a pharmacist unless you really care for what you’re doing. 

You’ve got to be able to feel like you’ve done a good day’s work, it’s not just about doing 150 scripts a day, it’s about helping people in a way they’ve never been helped before.

You have to be human. Talk about side effects, ask if someone is taking certain medication for the first time. It’s not about sticking a label on a bottle, it goes way beyond that. 

Can you tell us about a career highlight? 

Oh there’s been too many. I suppose a home visit case where I prevented someone from suiciding was a highlight. But interacting with people every day is great, I just love it. 

How did you find out about Locumate, and how’s it going so far? 

I found out about Locumate through Pharmacists on Call. It’s a new platform, so I think technology is a good thing for the sector. Locumate is getting rid of a lot of bugbears. I think it’s time saving, which is important for me because I’m so busy. Confirming dates and rates is time consuming, plus I spend a lot of time doing invoices, so I think making that easier and quicker is a good thing.

What are your top three pieces of advice for other locum pharmacists? 

  1. Appearance is really important. Keep your white coats spotless and wear a proper badge.
  2. Take a patient- first approach. 
  3. Go beyond the label. Go out of your way and spend time getting up to date with medications and advice. Know what you’re talking about. 

How Locumate is changing the invoicing experience

Revolutionising Locum Pharmacy: Changing the Invoicing Experience

From using multiple systems to handwriting paper invoices, locum pharmacists haven’t always been paid in a simple or straightforward way Locumate is changing the invoicing experience and paving the way for efficiency and convenience. Let’s be honest: it’s confusing, time consuming and deeply frustrating.

Visit the AppStore or Google Playstore to download Locumate.

The Hassle of Old Invoicing Methods

The traditional method of getting paid required locums to submit their own timesheets and invoices manually – a process that can consume hours of a locum’s time, creating an administrative burden no one needs. On top of that, our community research shows that in some instances, it can take up to three months for locums to get paid.

Locumate: Automating Invoicing

We know that there’s a better way and we’re excited to be part of the solution. At Locumate, we’re changing the invoicing experience by automating invoicing so pharmacies and locums can get back to doing what they do best: providing a great service to their customers.

How It Works: Simple and Secure

As soon as a locum finishes their shift, they submit a timesheet via our app. Then, the pharmacy approves it with the click of a button. From there, our secure payment feature creates an automatic invoice to the pharmacy on behalf of the locum, and this can be paid quickly online.

A Real World Perspective

Alan, a locum pharmacist in Caulfield South, says “I do a lot of shifts in different pharmacies and raising an invoice every time I work means I can be generating four or five invoices a week. It gets a bit messy.” Locumate offers a streamlined, reliable solution to this common issue.

Efficiency and Compliance for Pharmacies

For pharmacies on Locumate, all submitted invoices are approved, tracked and audited, and reporting functionality allows easy access for compliance.

A Future-focused Approach

We hope that this is just the start of an improved experience for locums and pharmacies. With exciting additions on the horizon, we’re keen to take the confusion, time, and effort out of invoicing, effectively changing the invoicing experience.

After all, no one gets into pharmacy to spend their time invoicing.

5 minutes with: a pharmacy student

A Q&A with pharmacy student, Ella Shearing 

We recently caught up with fourth year pharmacy student, Ella Shearing, to find out what life’s like, some of the challenges pharmacy students are facing now, and what’s next. 


Where are you studying pharmacy?

I go to Sydney Uni but in lockdown, I came back to my hometown of Dubbo. I came for a holiday and now I’ve been here since winter! 

I’m in my fourth year of pharmacy so I’ve just finished, and then I’m starting my internship year next year, which you need to become registered as a pharmacist. That needs to be done with a community pharmacy or hospital pharmacy, so I managed to get a job at a hospital pharmacy department in Canterbury Hospital. I’ve been applying since July and only just got that, so that whole process was quite difficult.


How did you find out about Locumate? 

I went to a PSA information night for pharmacists and pharmacy students. Kavi (Locumate’s co-founder) spoke about Locumate and it seemed really interesting. I reached out to her on LinkedIn and it’s really early days but I’ll be part of the Locumate team! 


What sparked your interest in Locumate? 

I think Kavi talked about how she’s been in the community for so long. I’ve been working in pharmacy since I was 12, so I related to her growing up in that environment for quite some time. Locumate seemed quite different and a different way to use your pharmacy degree. I’ve been branching out into hospital pharmacy and other things and just finding my place.


You’ve been in pharmacy since you were 12?!

My dad’s a pharmacist, so I grew up around the dispensary, just emptying the bins, then eventually doing much more in the business.


Did your family pharmacy use locums?

Yes, we did. A lot of the time, Dad would be the only pharmacist, so we’d often have to get locums in. We found that not many people want to live and work and move to the country. But, the few people we’ve had have stayed two to four years beyond their initial internship. We’ve had lots of experience with locums and it’s difficult trying to find the right one so that’s always been a problem for us. I’ve spoken to Dad about Locumate and really think they’d benefit from it. 


What’s the biggest challenge for pharmacy students right now?

Aside from COVID and online learning, for my year, it’s definitely finding a position and finding a job. Lots of people want to complete their internship but it’s difficult to find the right fit for you. And I know that being on the opposite side of that, finding the right intern to be a fit for a pharmacy is hard. So both sides of the party are struggling. 


Once you’ve graduated, would you do locum work?

Yeah, I’ve thought about it a lot, I think it’s a good opportunity to travel and get to know different areas and get exposed to different pharmacy environments and have that experience.


If you could be a locum pharmacist anywhere, where would you go? 

I’d love to go somewhere on the coast. Somewhere near the beach!