Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Work-life balance

I'm at a place where I'm preparing to pick rotations (well, in October of next year).  Most rotations at most pharmacy schools in the US are 5 weeks long and we do 8 of them (some schools let you do a 9th if you want, and length may vary a bit as well), starting in June and finishing up in April with December off.  I get 3 elective rotations to choose from, and I can choose pretty much anything I want and get credit for it.  In 15 weeks I can develop a specialty if I want, or choose general things that will make me well qualified anywhere.

The big factor, to me, is to try to explore some interesting options for a career path while picking electives that I'll enjoy and that might set me up to do a residency if I feel like it.  The other big factor is to consider choosing rotations that let me check out the various scheduling options within pharmacy.

The big choice: community or hospital?  I think I'd be happy with either one, so to me it's more about the common schedules for folks in either of those settings than which practice setting.  This summer at the hospital I saw pharmacists working 7 days in a row, 10 hour days with the following 7 days off alongside folk who had the more usual 4-5 days a week with every third weekend, 8.5 hour days.  I'm not sure which I'd like better but working 7-70 seems kind of appealing because getting a whole week off gives us flexibility to do stuff during school breaks and the option to either pick up part time work or just relax for a week sounds really tempting.  Alternately having a rotating schedule seems like it would be hard on kids rather than the simple "mommy works this week" schedule.

I've also been considering if I want to try to find a full time job at all or if I would rather be a rent-a-pharmacist and work when it suited me as the replacement for the day.  It's much harder to work at various locations and fill in, but the pay is good and the flexibility is great.  There's also the advantage of getting to see how various settings work before taking a job permanently.  The downside is that the benefits are awful or non-existent unless I worked for a particular chain rather than an agency, and where we live that would mean traveling further between locations.

I've promised the kid that once she's done with kindergarten, I'll be done with school and I'll just work (and actually be on rotation for that first year, but it's much closer to work than anything else).  I worry that it will feel like I'm cheating her out of family time if I wind up working a lot of nights and weekends.  Maybe I'll sign up for the dreaded third shift somewhere and sleep while she's in school so we have after school and evenings together.

So I guess that to me, it's more important to have a job where I get to be a good mom than it is to have the perfect job.  Yes, the kid's adaptable and Little Monster will have to be to live with us, but I also really want a chance to enjoy being a person and not a drone.


  1. I am all for working third shift....That's what I do. My FIL is a pharmacist and his hours are super crazy. He just went into semi retirement and he's like a different guy. I have a lot of respect for you going through all of this. Good luck with your decision....

    Of course if you could find a job that's M-F no weekends no holidays, that might not be too bad...

  2. Ooof, so many tough choices. My best friend is a nurse in a hospital and currently does the 7 days on/7 days off thing. It works out for her, but she doesn't plan to do it indefinitely. Another blogger ( has a husband who is a pharmacist and who had great hours but is now on the job market again.

  3. Whoa. That shift work seems intense, but also worth it. Then again, so does being a "supply teacher" pharmacist. I hate a love/hate relationship with subbing when I was a new teacher, but the flexibility was great. Jeez...I'm so helpful!