How to Select the Right Pharmacist Tech Course Near Alexander City Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Alexander CityAL, you may be thinking about how to choose the ideal program to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. Many prospective students begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated also. And if you prefer attending classes at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have numerous job functions, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Alexander City AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily tasks a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is a very gratifying career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Training Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially two options to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Alexander City AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech colleges opt to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, many Alexander City AL employers will only employ a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Colleges
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online training program, it's necessary to realize that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in an area Alexander City pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to receive some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Alexander City AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and study materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online classes may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
After 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 narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Alexander City AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Alexander City home. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are many other factors that you must take into consideration so that you may properly compare colleges. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Don't forget to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Alexander City AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many employers desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician college needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This qualification may be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Alexander City Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Alexander City AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some assistance. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Alexander City AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist technician school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Alexander City AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Right Alexander City Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the right pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where helping customers with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist tech schools incorporate both clinical and classroom work. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as 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 ideal selection. With the proper education and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Alexander City Alabama.