How to Select the Right Pharmacy Tech School Near Anniston Alabama
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near AnnistonAL, you might be wondering just how to select the right college to get your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of future students begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical factors when selecting a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. And if you prefer attending classes at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have various job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Anniston 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 medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and help 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 prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage 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 typical, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 options to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Anniston AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech colleges opt to get certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Anniston AL pharmacies will only employ 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, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Colleges Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacy technician online program, it's important to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Anniston pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Anniston AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online programs are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online school 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 may be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Technician Colleges
After you have determined whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, 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 numerous pharmacy technician colleges to select from in the Anniston AL area and throughout the United States, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Anniston home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are many other variables that you need to consider in order to properly compare schools. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? Most pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have earned 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 screened and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Be sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program together with the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Anniston AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech school should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This condition can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates a year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Anniston Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial job in Anniston AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a daunting task without any help. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Anniston AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes 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 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. 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 perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacy tech school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Anniston AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Anniston Pharmacy Technician School
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to select a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the proper training and determination you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Anniston Alabama.