How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacist Technician Program Near Alabaster Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near AlabasterAL, you might be wondering how to choose the best school to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of future students start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important factors when selecting a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Job of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job duties, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Alabaster AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily services a pharmacy technician may carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially two options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Alabaster AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Alabaster AL employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Classes
Before choosing a pharmacist tech online school, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in an area Alabaster pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to get some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Alabaster AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online training may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs
Once you have determined whether you want to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy technician schools to select from in the Alabaster AL area and throughout the Country, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Alabaster home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other variables that you should consider so that you may properly compare programs. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a complete superior education. Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Be sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Alabaster AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many employers prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech college should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This qualification can be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of professional experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the colleges have associations with Alabaster Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Alabaster AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any help. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Alabaster AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy tech school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Alabaster Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the best pharmacist tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where helping people with their wellness is your objective. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist tech colleges include both classroom and laboratory training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the best selection. With the right training and dedication you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Alabaster Alabama.