How to Select the Right Pharmacy Tech College Near Alabaster Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near AlabasterAL, you might be thinking about just how to select the right college to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. Many potential students start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Duties of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Alabaster AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Training Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Alabaster AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Alabaster AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist tech online training program, it's necessary to realize that most 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 benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to receive some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Alabaster AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online instruction might be the best solution for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses
Once you have determined whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are many pharmacy technician schools to choose from in the Alabaster AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting 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 important. But there are several other issues that you should take into consideration so that you may properly compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a complete superior education. Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Don't forget to verify that the degree or certificate program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it might help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Alabaster AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician program needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement can be satisfied by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the programs have associations with Alabaster Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that first position in Alabaster AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a difficult task without any support. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Alabaster AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy technician college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. 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, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Alabaster Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the right pharmacist tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting people with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech schools incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to select a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the appropriate training and commitment you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Alabaster Alabama.