F unemployed!

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So, I guess I’m technically unemployed right now.

That feels really weird to say “I’m between jobs” i.e., unemployed.  I’m struggling with being ok with it.  I’m not early retired yet.  I’m not on sabbatical as I’m actively looking for jobs.

So what happened?

Well, it’s been about a 6 weeks since my life got a little turned upside down by basically being fired when I told my main job “if I can’t facilitate a change in the situation here, I’ll have to change my situation” and they answered me by handing me a final check a couple months later.

Duly noted; they wanted a license for hire, not to support their staff, increase workload while decreasing resources and to tie my hands on doing any of the typical management tasks that lead to improvements in staff.  I got my answer.

That’s cool.. I’ve got backup plans

That was all fine and well because I had a backup job.  Except a few weeks after I went to my backup job “full time” (I had two weeks with overtime initially upon opening up my schedule fully to them),  and was in the process of trying to get coded as more than per diem… they cut hours.  A LOT.

Except… now I don’t

So, big shakeups at the big corporate job that affect a lot more people than just me.

Here’s the gist: all full timers except management get only 32 hours.  Part timers who used to get 24 hours (enough for insurance) are now cut down to 20 hours.  And people like me who were per diem when this whole mess transpired are getting…. nada.

I’m still on the books, but, now all the people who were promised hours are fighting for the hours that are leftover.  At least for the next few months (until people who require 40 hours a week start finding other jobs), I’m only going to get called in for an emergency most likely.  I’ve had one shift on the books September 1-22.

Can I say it again?  Thank goodness for that emergency fund!

I’m so happy I’m not reliant on getting 40 hours a week like many of my colleagues.

A lot of this worked out ok initially for me.  I had a planned vacation the last two weeks of August (cheap, go visit some family).  So though I’ve not really worked for almost a month now, in effect, it’s only been about 2 weeks where I’ve “felt” unemployed.

So what have I done about it?  I filed for fuckin’ unemployment?!

That’s a statement I never thought I’d make as a pharmacist! And my weekly maximum benefit is going to be about equivalent to one day of work.  It’s still cash flow though and a benefit I’ve earned just like every other employee.

I figure it sends a bit of a statement to me previous employer as well, as they do have to explain the reason for the termination to someone.  That reason probably won’t be shared with me, but, basically all I got was “we were afraid you would quit and we can’t have something like that happen unless we’re in control of the situation, no hard feelings, you can use us as a reference.”

Some new life experiences here…

I haven’t seen a check yet as there is an investigation process.  And if I get some per diem work through the corporate job, I just won’t file for that week.  But it gets me 6 months of weekly checks for the next year should I need it.  I’m iffy on what this means for taxes… but I don’t think my funemployement (stole that from someone on twitter) will last too long so I’ll go ahead and start claiming.

I’ve also signed up with a pharmacist staffing company.  This was kind of a “if I get desperate” measure.  I’m sure I’ll have a post on that at some point too.  It’s a less than ideal work option

Because of my location, any shifts that I would pick up would be probably 4-6 hours away.  They don’t pay drive time, and they pay half the mileage rate I’m used to getting, if they pay any mileage at all!  No meal allowance and a tight hotel budget.  Given all that, I would be making, effectively, less than 50% of my normal hourly rate when you factor in drive time and other expenses, but at my normal fairly high tax rate.  Not cool.

To top it off, they have all this extra work that you have to do on your own time to be eligible to EVEN BE CALLED to be ASKED if you’re available and want to pick up a shift.  So far, I’d day it’s been about 8-10 hours of unpaid work.  They really do prey on people with no other options.  They say maybe 4-6 shifts per month?

Time for a change!

If you read my post “Deep Work and Why my Job Sucks” you got to see some of my frustrations with retail pharmacy.  I think all this mess and the continuing changes (for the worse) mean it’s probably time to make my exit from retail pharmacy.

I’ve said I’d like to do it for years, but I haven’t had the kick in the ass to make it happen.

I’ve worked hospital in the past and I find it much more professionally fulfilling.  I truly use what I went to school to learn and you are forced to continually be learning.  Also, I think my no nonsense attitude, high standard and ethics are more appreciated in a hospital setting.

Hospital work can be scary, because, YOU CAN REALLY KILL PEOPLE in a different way than retail, but, I’m smart.  I can learn it again and handle it.

I was trying to plan a change, but not as committed.

Before my life blew up, knowing that I was miserable in the main job, it was effecting my health, and that it was a dead end and not going to get any better, I had interviewed for a per diem hospital position.

At the time, I decided there was more time commitment there than I could give with my other two jobs.  I saw it as an opportunity to re-learn the field and maybe transition to hospital fully in the future, but as a not-main job, I had too much else on my plate.  I told them I didn’t think I could take it on on top of everything else.

A lot of work, a little luck.

I called them back when my schedule “opened up” to let them know I was still interested, but they had a candidate in mind at that point.  A few weeks later, I got a call from them saying that candidate fell through and they wanted to talk availability!  We’ve talked and I’m waiting to see if I get a job offer. Sweet!

There is another potential hospital position in the works.. so it seems I may indeed have some options and I’m feeling pretty optimistic at the moment.  Cross your fingers for me.

A while I’m getting to pretend I’m retired?

I’m spending a lot of time with my family.  Hitting some yoga classes, doing some mushroom picking (and selling to local restaurants).  Doing a little bit of clean up and purging around the house (at least what’s under my control vs. what my husband has to agree to).  I’m totally not bored, which is a good sign!

I’m not getting much else done, and will probably make a follow-up post about how interesting it’s been that I can’t seem to focus to get much “work” done or financial planning.  I haven’t tackled some things like rolling over the 401k from the old main job or getting my husband’s Vanguard setup or rolling my Betterment to Vanguard.  Goals for the next month I guess.

I’m trying to make the most of and enjoy this unusual point where I don’t have any commitments… while trying not to stress too much about unsurety in the immediate future!

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Regina is That Frugal Pharmacist. She’s a PharmD, mother to a son with cancer, breadwinning wife, personal finance enthusiast, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. Regina’s single-income household has been debt-free, including her home, since she was 28 years old.
Her money approach is “holistic financial health.” She encourages mindful spending, awareness of the non-monetary costs of choices, and aligning personal values with money habits. Regina sees a frugal lifestyle and mindset as an important part of environmental stewardship. As such she’s interested in ongoing efforts towards self-sufficiency and sustainability.

11 thoughts on “F unemployed!”

  1. Sorry about your backup job falling through, it sounds like what Kroger did throughout their chain.

    You have to love it when corporate wants you to do ‘more with less’ that is the pharmacy mantra now a days.

    My son works as a pharmacy tech in a subsidiary of one of the many stores Kroger owns under a different name and he was telling me how the shit really hit the fan when the about cuts came down the wire. Basically a lot of unhappy workers, which in turn give poor customer service because they feel betrayed by their employer.

    I too have worked for a pharmacist staffing company in the past, I guess I am still on the books for some, even though I haven’t worked for any in a number of years. In my area there is a glut of pharmacists due to a new college of pharmacy opening up and pumping out as many graduates as they can get to pay their $54k annual tuition!!

    Good luck!

  2. I had to close my last practice site in April 2018 after 5 years — the company I operated the on-site facility pharmacy for had their contract terminated. I was one of those crazy people that went back to college later in life, so I graduated in 2010, but did not complete a residency. I’ve worked 8 years as a pharmacist and now I can’t buy a job. I’ve applied for ~300 pharmacist positions with no luck. I decided to start a small pharmacy consulting business to help deduct some expenses while finding patients/caregivers to educate and counsel – fee for service since my services are not covered by insurance. There is a lot of potential for making this work. I also try to get relief work with independent pharmacies within a 50-mile radius of where I live, but have only had one shift so far.

    So, I decided to find work in a healthcare-related field to bring in some regular income to support myself (keep my budget in the black). I found a job with a really great company (Fortune 500) that is a short commute from home, M-F with no evenings or weekends, modern spacious facility, modern equipment, and work atmosphere similar to Google or FaceBook. I’m a contract employee now, but will be offered full-time employment when the 9 months of training is completed – guaranteed. The money is a lot less per hour than I earned as a pharmacist, but I’m grateful to have a job. I have to remain frugal (as I have for all of my life) and save as much as possible. Luckily, I’m mortgage-free; however, I have large student loan debt that is currently in deferral — hated to do it, but had to. I may end up taking that to the grave. In the mean time, I continue to think of ways to develop my business, hunt for pharmacies needing weekend relief, apply for any/all pharmacist positions posted anywhere, and have started a website and Instagram page.

    It’s sad out here for pharmacists.

    1. I’m sorry you found me related to these troubles.

      How is the consulting practice going?

      With many of the stories that I’m hearing, it actually sounds like the contract job you got could be a great branching out potential. There are some interesting options for pharmacists in the tech sector, but breaking in can be tough. Shoot me an email and I’ll point you to a networking potential.

      1. I haven’t had lots of time to develop business strategies since working 40-hour/week at a non-pharmacist position, but I want to try and get something going. I would appreciate any leads for networking. I’m attending a Medipreneurs seminar in Asheville, NC, at the end of the month — pharmacists thinking/doing outside the box, so I’m hoping for some inspiration and motivation.

        I really want to explore all the possibilities for services I can potentially provide for patients even though I’m not working with or out of a pharmacy. I think there’s a market to work with physicians in small practices — especially GP’s and probably more markets to explore.

        There are experts I’ll need to pay to help me such as a lawyer for legal disclaimers/contracts and how to handle files and patient information since I’ll be working out of my home office. Luckily, I’m the only one with access to my home office, so storage of patient information will be limited to that room, my business laptop, and backup storage of computer data on removable devices.

        I enjoy your blog! Good luck to you, too.

    2. Pharmacy really is going down hill
      Since Techs stole our bread and butter we have had to re invent ourselves
      But it hasn’t been easy for most
      The most advanced skill I learnt at Uni was counselling patients but the Techs are so good at that.
      I keep telling myself what have I done, whilst my younger brother who qualified 5 years after me as a Physcian is on 200,000 . Hes getting a call every day for him to take up a better job and offering more,

      1. Yes, I wish I had decided to go to Medical School instead of Pharmacy school. My niece is a Cardiologist and pulling in nearly a million bucks per year. Sure, she has high malpractice insurance and high exam fees every 10 years and works really hard and long hours, but I could have been a general practitioner and loved it. Live and learn! I’m going to wait until my youngest grandchild turns 3 or 4 years old and then I’m going to get involved and do my best to get a residency or fellowship even if it means a commute to and from my home on a weekly or monthly basis to improve my chances for employment in this area or with companies to work from home for the last 10-15 years I want to work. Good luck to you and everyone else searching for work and better, less stressful work positions.


  3. I’m a little late to the party but I’m in similar shoes. I graduated from pharmacy school in May of 2018. I am 9 months out of school without a job. I’ve sent my resume to companies (both retail and hospital) all over the state of Texas. It’s a tough pill to swallow. The plan: go to school for 10 years, graduate, and do something that I enjoy. I’m doing the exact opposite: eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with ramen noodles and working off jobs to scrap cash to get by. I’m one of 2 from my class that doesn’t have a job yet. At one point, I continually asked myself what was happening. I’ve stopped asking myself that question. Frugal, I’m about done entertaining my dreams and goals of pharmacy. Luckily, I’ll he able to use my degree in a non specific degree field in the service. The position of infantry officer awaits.

    1. I’m sorry to hear all that. Glad you found the blog, but not under those circumstances.

      Honestly, going in as an officer doesn’t sound like that bad of a bet. If you’re single it could be a good option. I seriously was looking into civilian conservation corp officer but didn’t want to go where those jobs were. But, if you’re being faced with having to move to get a job there are plenty of good reasons and perks to pursue it as a military officer.

      Going into other areas of pharmacy and exploring outside of retail will, in the end, open you up to more opportunities in the future. Keep me updated. I’m curious to know how the military angle works for you.

      Can’t say I’d recommend pharmacy to most people anymore. There are too many unknowns and what ifs for the amount of effort that goes into getting the degree.

  4. LaShawn BaileyJones

    I could not recommend it to my worst enemy. I am switching to elementary education after almost working 20 years as a retail pharmacist. Store managers have always been jealous of pharmacists and always will. I don’t know anybody who got rich becoming a pharmacist anyways.

  5. Sorry you are all struggling. I got into pharmacy as a second career in my ’30’s, worked so hard and we all skipped vacations, worked when sick, etc.due to staff shortages. Pay increases in the late ’90’s started the stampede for pharmacy,and too many new schools opened, all at once. National societies did zip. I could have been faculty at a school but avoided it, since it would be ripping off future grads who would not all get jobs (we could see that coming). In the last ten years, older pharmacists were let go and new grads hired to replace us, but now, people in their late ’30’s or 40’s are being let go. Many of us tried to warn students and interns along the way.

    Many of us also went to BOP meetings, tried to push back against huge tech ratios (which took away jobs), horrible workloads, etc., and got nowhere. Pharmacists also let this happen: Kroger was once union and pharmacists thought “They’d never cut our pay!” and let it decertify, huge mistake. Some pharmacists got full of themselves and greedy, working 1.5 FTE’s and doing minimal quality work. Chains initially increased pay and created some of this mess, incentivizing people to job hop, demand more and treat coworkers poorly.

    There were always good people in this field, but it’s now stressed out new grads trying to do it all for less every year, with huge student loans. You might try drug manufacturing companies, or being an insurance broker/sales, maybe teaching STEM, or healthcare sales (devices, services). Many others have lost careers as fields imploded/were outsourced (some happened in LTC/pharmacy). You will at least always understand health care far better than others, and you and your family will be able to avoid many healthcare mistakes–not the payback you wanted for working hard in school, but still valuable.

    Look at this as a disaster, and be glad you are in one piece, and try to move on.

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