How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Technician School Near Alexander City Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near Alexander CityAL, you may be pondering just how to pick the right school to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many prospective students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important factors when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some 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 technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Role of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job functions, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Alexander City AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily services a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
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 alternatives to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Alexander City AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Available Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to get certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Alexander City AL employers will only employ a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Colleges Online
Before choosing a pharmacist technician online college, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in an area Alexander City pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician in order to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Alexander City AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online training may be the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
Once you have decided whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech programs to choose from in the Alexander City AL area and throughout the USA, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Alexander City residence. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are several other factors that you should take into consideration in order to effectively compare programs. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Many pharmacist technician colleges and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a complete superior education. Online schools may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Be sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it might help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Alexander City AL employers 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 every state, but numerous employers desire that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacy tech program should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Alexander City Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that first job in Alexander City AL after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a difficult task without some support. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has a good reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Alexander City AL residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing 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 final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several 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 confirm that the pharmacist tech program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Alexander City AL area, verify 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 need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Alexander City Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the ideal pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the right training and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Alexander City Alabama.