Can You Work at More Than One Pharmacy?
By Cassi Prosper, CPhT
In today’s economy, it can be tough to make ends meet. With gas, food, and housing costs on the rise, many are looking for supplemental income in the way of a second job. As a pharmacy technician, you may be asking yourself, “am I able to work at more than one pharmacy?”. Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward and has many layers while being specific to your situation. The State in which you work and the company that you work for will factor into the answer.
First, let me start with the short answer: yes, you can work at more than one pharmacy…. but it depends on your current employer and the area of pharmacy you work (such as inpatient or outpatient).
I currently work as a pharmacy buyer at a community hospital as well as Director and Lead instructor for my local junior college’s pharmacy technician program. At my hospital pharmacy, 60% of my coworkers have other jobs. At the junior college, all my fellow instructors work at pharmacies as well. It is quite common in the hospital setting for staff to have multiple jobs. In the hospital setting, collaboration and idea-sharing are more common amongst facilities than in other settings.
Dare to compete with yourself, not the Noncompete agreement!
I used to work for a major retail pharmacy, and in the fifteen years there, I don’t recall ever having a coworker that held another job at another pharmacy. This was because, upon hire, we had all signed a noncompete contract. A noncompete agreement is a contract that prohibits an employee from working for or becoming a competitor for a certain period of time. Many retail employers, including CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, require employees to sign a noncompete agreement so that employees cannot work for a “competitor” during their employment. The specifics of each agreement as well as which entities are deemed “competitors” will vary amongst the companies, so you may want to check the paperwork you signed upon hire or ask your supervisor if the company you work for has employees sign a noncompete agreement (and if so request a copy). Your employer cannot require you to sign a noncompete agreement. However, they have the right to terminate or choose not to hire you if you refuse to sign, depending on your State’s laws.
The map below from Bloomberglaw.com shows state-specific limitations for noncompete agreements.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient pharmacy settings
If you work for a hospital or infusion pharmacy, you can typically work just about anywhere because most hospitals or inpatient facilities do not require employees to sign noncompete agreements.
Finding a second job becomes a little more difficult if you are currently employed at a retail pharmacy and have signed a noncompete agreement. In this situation, you would only be able to accept a second job outside of the parameters of that contract which typically means you would have to work for a non-retail pharmacy that is not considered competition as outlined by your contract. The reality is that it makes your job search that much more difficult because you are drastically reducing the number of open positions you can apply for. In addition to not seeking employment at any other retail pharmacy, many technicians are not considered qualified when applying for hospital technician positions. Getting an inpatient job can be very hard for many technicians if they don’t already have inpatient experience.
Options and Opportunities
The good news is that there are still some options available to technicians who only have retail experience. If you are well versed in insurance billing and adjudication, then a job with a Pharmacy Benefit Management company, such as Express Scripts or Blue Cross, could be a viable option for you.
Another option may be with a Long Term Care pharmacy, as long as it is not a subsidiary of a competing retail pharmacy (for example, Omnicare is owned by CVS, so if you worked for a competitor, you could not work for Omnicare).
No matter what setting you’re in or where you are in your pharmacy career and Advanced Certification, such as those offered by the PTCB, could make you more marketable.
The good news is that regardless of your current employer, there are options out there for pharmacy technicians to work at more than one pharmacy, and now you know you have options and opportunities!