How to Choose the Right Pharmacy Technician Training Program Near Albertville Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near AlbertvilleAL, you may be wondering just how to choose the right program to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. Many prospective students begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are critical factors when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be evaluated also. And if you prefer attending classes at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have many job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Albertville AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Albertville AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires 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 down the road. Each program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges opt to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Albertville AL employers will only hire a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Colleges
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online school, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in a local Albertville pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Albertville AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online instruction may be the best solution for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have determined whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician schools to pick from in the Albertville AL area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Albertville home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are many other variables that you should take into consideration so that you may adequately compare colleges. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Many pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Albertville AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech program should prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This qualification may be satisfied by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Albertville Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Albertville AL after graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some assistance. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Albertville AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy technician program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Albertville AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Right Albertville Pharmacy Tech Course
Receiving the best pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where assisting people with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician schools include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the right training and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Albertville Alabama.