We’ve been hit by a pandemic that no one can ignore. It’s turned ALL our worlds upside down in many ways.
For some, the changes have been devastating and life-altering and my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones.
I know this because I am seeing the devastation everyday.
But for pharmacists, from a professional standpoint, there is hope… Lots of hope, and I am seeing that all around me as well.
Telepharmacy Jobs & Home-Based Pharmacist Jobs Are Aplenty… Now!
I recently got a question in the Comments on my blog post about Looking Back & Looking Forward and it spurred me to write this post because I have been seeing lots of these jobs pop up lately and in my mind was hoping others who are looking for them have been seeing them as well.
For starters, check out this posting:
If you’re wondering if it’s possible to ever find a telepharmacy or home-based pharmacist job, now more than ever is the time to start looking because the fact is, these jobs are popping up all over right now.
One of the positive outcomes of the COVID pandemic is that it has forced many organizations that were previously staunchly opposed to incorporating a remote aspect to their employees’ jobs to rethink that.
With many pharmacists getting sick and indisposed because they are getting exposed to and contracting the corona virus in the line of duty, they are having to be replaced… And very quickly!
See this article about a Kaiser pharmacy in Oregon closing because of an outbreak of the corona virus among pharmacy staff. That was literally just this month!
What Does This Mean to Aspiring Telepharmacists?
It means that organizations are having to rethink how they can leverage technology to protect not just sensitive patient information, but now also their patients and their employees and other contracted workers.
This means, saying yes to finding ways to allow pharmacists to work remotely if they are doing tasks that don’t require them to be physically located within a hospital facility.
The good news is, many are doing just that!
And not just in New York like in the ad above, but all over the United States.
I can’t speak to what developments are happening in the pharmacy industry outside the U.S. because I live in America but hopefully the same changes are taking place.
What Types of Telepharmacy & Work-at-Home Pharmacist Jobs Are There?
- Epic Pharmacist – of course this is first on my list. It actually has always had a work-from-home component to it because as an Epic pharmacist, except for during go-lives, we can do everything we need to do for our jobs remotely.
- Remote Order Entry Pharmacist – in this role you’ll be verifying prescription orders remotely (just like it says). These orders could be from outpatient pharmacies or inpatient pharmacies.
- Companies like Walgreens have led the way for this type of work in the retail space
- Many hospitals have adopted this (initially for their graveyard coverage for inpatient pharmacies but now most are doing this 24/7)
- Call Center Pharmacist – here you will work with pharmacy technicians who typically will triage the calls before you get them. For organizations that offer refills by phone, most patients think they are calling their local pharmacy but actually these calls are routed to a call center. If/when a human being actually picks up the phone, the first contact the patient makes is most likely with a pharmacy technician who will get all the relevant refill information. These calls get escalated to a pharmacist only if there is a clinical question, the rest of the time, call center pharmacists are reviewing orders or taking verbal telephone orders from physicians and/or their nurses.
- Prior Authorization Pharmacist – similar to the call center pharmacist described above but in this case, very rarely will you as a pharmacist interact with any patients. Rather your job will be to review prior authorization requests and follow a pre-determined algorithm for either approving or denying the claim. These jobs will require you to do some investigating, for example, if a patient has a medical condition and your company (the insurance company or PBM that you’ll be working for as a prior auth pharmacist) covers one brand and not another, you will have to look at the medical literature to determine what the appropriate therapeutic substitute will be and why. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that because at the end of the day you will be working for a company that is trying to cut costs and your clients (the patient and their doctor) are trying to get the most effective treatment (and they don’t care as much about the cost because their health is at stake). It can be rough on you as a pharmacist from an ethical point of view but that’s another blog post for another day.
- Other telepharmacy or home-based pharmacist jobs you’ll see mentioned in other articles around the web but which aren’t really practical if you’re coming from retail or hospital pharmacy because the career change gap is just too wide. These include >>> medical writer, drug safety specialist, QA specialist (this is even too vague to explain but they usually prefer nurses for these jobs anyway), etc.
Skills Needed (Required & “Nice to Haves”) For Telepharmacy Jobs
Because telepharmacy work means you can do your job from literally anywhere, one of the universal requirements you’ll see in a lot of postings is multiple state licensure OR a willingness to attain multiple licenses (usually within a specified period of time).
The reason for this is that as more boards of pharmacy begin to allow and accept telepharmacy and remote pharmacy work, they would like pharmacists who care for patients in their respective states to understand what their specific laws are.
So if you want to make yourself stand out from the crowd, start racking up those state licenses.
The truth is that some state licenses are more desirable than others. It’s a harsh truth but it’s the reality. So if you want to give yourself and even better fighting chance, then aim to get licensed by those states first.
Put off getting licensed in states that have not yet approved telepharmacy and remote pharmacy work.
You can easily find this information by visiting the boards of pharmacy sites for the states you’re interested in.
Which states are hot right now for remote pharmacist work you ask?
California, Texas, and New York (especially with the COVID pandemic, there are so many opportunities right now for remote pharmacists). But even apart from COVID, these are the top three you’ll want to get first.
After you get these three under your belt these states are on the next tier of licensure desirability – Colorado, Virginia, and Nevada.
Some states only require that you be a U.S.-licensed pharmacist but others are more particular and require that you be licensed in their own respective states.
But don’t despair if you’re not licensed in any of the aforementioned states. In the sample job posting below for Remote Order Pharmacist, you can see it is for those with a Louisiana license.
So you almost can’t go wrong as long as you’re licensed in at least one U.S. state.
Sample Remote Work-From-Home Pharmacist Job Posting
Additional Requirements For Telepharmacy Work
As you can see from the posting above (this job posting is also from April 2020, when this blog post was originally written), if you’ve been working as an inpatient or retail pharmacist, the bar is pretty easily scalable.
Notice that the posting above is a job that has opened up because of the COVID pandemic (this goes back to my earlier point of now being a great time to start grabbing these positions). Granted, it is listed as “temporary” but very often, if you a do a good job and they like you, they will keep you on, if not as a full-time employee or contractor, then in some other capacity e.g. part-time or per diem.
And if they do end up terminating your contract when it runs out, you now have the experience under your belt and can add it to your resume.
Next let me address the issue of software… If you are coming from a facility that doesn’t use the EMR software that the hiring facility does, don’t worry!
All software is teachable, and all software is learnable.
The job posting below specifies that both Epic and AllScripts experience are a plus “but not required”.
And THAT’S what YOU should focus on. If you don’t have the experience, they can teach you and you can learn it. That’s an easily solvable “problem”.
If there are other applicants that do have experience with those software systems then you want to make sure you shine brighter than them in some other area(s), for example clinically, willingness to work “less desirable hours” (hey, you’ll be working from home anyway right?), or even with the number of state licenses you hold (get cracking on those license applications and reciprocations now).
NOTE: you should be able to tell your future telepharmacy employer that you have a secure confidential area in your home you can work from that will ensure that your patients’ information is protected.
You should also have reliable WiFi. Most, if not all organizations will reimburse you for your WiFi costs and provide you with all the equipment you will need to work for them… Well, except the one in the posting above for the “Remote NYC Pharmacist” (but we’ll give them a break because times are tough right now in New York due to COVID).
I hope this information has been helpful to you.
If you still have more questions about this topic, leave them in the Comments section below and I will happily respond to the best of my knowledge.