Betty Taylor, Pharmacist has been an Ontario Pharmacist Association (OPA) member for the last 20 years. She first came across the member benefit, Relief Buddy when she was looking to take on extra shifts. Taylor, who has been practicing for 40 years had previously used the OPA website to find relief shifts was intrigued when she was directed to the Relief Buddy website. 

Taylor discovered that Relief Buddy is an application that benefits pharmacies and pharmacy professionals seeking relief shifts. The application easily allows pharmacies to post relief shifts in real-time and select from pharmacist, technician, assistant, student, and intern candidates. Also, because Relief Buddy is a member benefit, OPA members earn more per shift on the platform as 25% of the administration fee is waived and the savings are passed along to members. 

Naturally, seeing all the advantages Taylor quickly signed up for the Relief Buddy app and began looking for relief shifts. Over the last six months, she is a dedicated user and has totaled hundreds of dollars in extra earnings from this OPA member benefit.  

Betty Taylor 3

Pharmacist, Betty Taylor working at a pharmacy.

“Overall, it’s very user-friendly which I like, it’s easy to find a shift and apply for it.” She continues, “I like the notifications by email of all the shifts available and when I apply, I get a notification of acceptance and reminders of my shift to come. Also, I like the confirmation that I’m going to be paid. I like the payroll feature. All the paid invoices are easily accessible, and the calendar feature is great I can just look at-a-glance to see what days are filled.” 

Relief shifts offer flexibility for pharmacy professionals at every stage of their careers. It can provide students and new practitioners an opportunity to get their foot in the door, meet new colleagues, and build their reputation in the pharmacy sector. It gives pharmacy professionals an opportunity to choose their own hours, have a change of scenery as there will be different staff, patients, and expectations at various locations. Furthermore, pharmacy professionals can discover new efficient policies, procedures, and workflows which they can share and apply at other new locations. As a relief pharmacist, Taylor has also witnessed the positive effects on patient care, as being in a new location provided her the opportunity to give patients a fresh perspective or approach to their treatments. 

“I get the flexibility on how I can schedule my work week so if you want to go on a holiday you don’t have to worry about who is going to cover you,” she says. “I did own a pharmacy for a few years, and it was always a challenge, so that flexibility is great, and I can choose the hours, I can choose what wage I’m willing to take, the type of pharmacy I go to. Whatever suits my needs I have those options open to me.” 

Happy scientists talking in laboratory. Smiling male and female pharmacists are wearing lab coats. Professionals are at pharmacy.

The various features on Relief Buddy are a solution to some of the pain points of taking on relief shifts. The app has a minimum standard pay rate pharmacies must provide. Users can instantaneously view the shift location, contact information, and whether there is an assistant and registered technician on the site. Pharmacies can also list additional notes such as if cash handling is necessary. Often when finding relief shifts through other means there may be a lack of familiarity between the pharmacy professional and the pharmacy. On Relief Buddy, pharmacy professionals can leave reviews about their experience at the pharmacy and vice-versa.

Users can also feel at ease regarding payments and tracking of financials. Reviews and summaries are provided regarding how much a user has earned and will be paid. Pharmacies and pharmacy professionals can retrieve receipts and invoices generated on the platform.

“The hourly rates are competitive so that makes it a bonus,” Taylor says. “There’s no invoicing, like usually I would have had to generate an invoice and give it to them [the pharmacy] and figure out how they are going to pay me. I don’t have to do any of that, the direct deposit payment is convenient and it’s done on a regular basis, so I know every Friday that I will have that deposited.”

Each new relief shift can be a learning experience. When she enters a pharmacy Taylor ensures to introduce herself to the team, she takes time to familiarize herself with the dispensary and the shop layout in case she needs to make over-the-counter recommendations. She also asks thorough questions about procedures, like where the pharmacy attaches receipts, and whether certain dialogue is required with patients. 

When it comes to offering advice for other pharmacy professionals seeking to do relief shifts, Taylor says. “You have to follow their workflow and their procedures, within reason of course, if it’s something that’s not ethical then I definitely wouldn’t be doing that and I would speak up but I haven’t run into that.” She continues. “You have to be open to working with other people and know that certain people do things certain ways. I find being respectful to others always works for me. I’ve been asked to come back several times so I’m happy about that. Things like that are really important just knowing that it’s not going to be your familiar territory, you’re going to have to adjust.”  

About the OPA and Relief Buddy Partnership

Relief Buddy is an OPA member benefit that was added in 2020. Relief Buddy is a real-time staffing app designed specifically for pharmacy professionals. It allows you to create and set up your profile in a few easy steps, provides better screening functionality and improves communication between pharmacies and relief staff. Relief Buddy charges lower administration fees than most traditional agencies. OPA members earn more on the app because Relief Buddy waives 25% of the administration fee and passes the extra earnings to membersTo learn more or sign up for Relief Buddy visit,