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Ultan Molloy takes a ‘helicopter view’ of locums with fresh ideas, the allure of retirement and relationships with patients past and present

I read somewhere some time back that one should consider a career in medicine if one has a “chronic need to be needed, or if one is heavily invested in being right all the time!” Not quite sage career advice, but certainly an interesting take on the career and perhaps some of those who choose to follow it as a career. I can think of a few doctors who may well fall into one or both of those categories,  as I can some pharmacists. Ongoing demands are inevitably exhausting though, surely. This has been my own experience as a pharmacist, business owner, parent, friend, etc, and I know full well how important it is for people to have a listening ear. I often miss my own listening ear when she’s not around.

‘Number of dependents?’ Three, in my case. ‘Or are there more?!’ I think to myself. There is a reason one’s
children are called ‘dependents’ and not ‘independents’ on forms, isn’t there. I’d love a little more time not being needed at this point in my life, truth be told. There’s surely a sweet spot between incessant demands, and being completely left alone. I’d imagine being a GP is more of the former. I can understand why burnout is a frequent issue in the medical profession, as it is among pharmacists.

We have had a double-edged sword experience of sorts since the end of last year. Family illness and other events
led to us being chronically short on pharmacist cover for a few weeks over the Christmas period. Things have changed since then. We have parted company with one of our pharmacies, and we’re feeling like we have a little more capacity in our lives in order to resource ourselves.

Anyway, so the pharmacist cover, mainly through a well-known national agency, cost us a fortune for the few weeks we needed. It had to be done. We have some occasional locum cover still, and in fairness, we’re delighted with the few occasional locums we have coming and going now. The wages are higher for casual work, as we know, but we’re having fresh heads with an appetite for work coming to us. They’re adding value to our workplace experience coming with fresh ideas and with an energy that’s welcome. Thankfully, we have a really strong support team, and there has been minimal upheaval when it comes  to patient relationships. I think the experience can be very much symbiotic when everyone is on the same page, and prepared to put in a decent shift of work.

Separately, some good news for those of us who trained in the UK initially, and may have worked there for a time. We’re entitled to a UK pension, and can top it up also. At a time when I feel like I’m bleeding money, this was a welcome reprieve in the other direction. It’s  worth checking out if you’ve worked in the UK previously — just have a Google and see what you can find, or drop you a WhatsApp and I’ll ping you on the newspaper article re same. I’m a bit off pension age still mind you, although some days I can see the attraction of the retirement to come on the horizon.

We have had some patients, who we held also as friends, ‘retire permanently’ from needing our services both through suicide, unfortunately, and through illness. I’m proud of our team, and how they cared for those people. I know
there were strong relationships there, and in line with our core value of warm friendship, they cared for them like family. A family where people cared deeply about one another, and their custom was more than just a transaction to us.

“How are you today Martin?” I used to ask. “Above ground and fighting back,” he would reply. I hope you’re feeling
good when you read this. Not just about yourself, but about the work that you do, and what you bring to your workplace, and to the world, and may you continue to do so for as long as you’re “above ground and fighting back”


Ultan Molloy is a business and professional performance coach, pharmacist, facilitator, and development specialist. He works with other pharmacists, business owners, and third parties to develop business strategies. Ultan can be contacted on 086 1693343.