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How to Pick the Right Pharmacy Tech College Near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama pharmacy tech taking prescription from shelfHaving decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near AthensAL, you may be thinking about just how to choose the ideal program to get your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. A number of future students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are critical factors when picking a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. And if you prefer studying in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online courses.

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The Duties of a Pharmacy Tech

Athens Alabama hospital pharmacy tech in lab coat

Pharmacy techs have various job responsibilities, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Athens AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:

  • Welcome and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
  • Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
  • Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
  • Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
  • Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory

As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends 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 gratifying career helping customers with their health and wellness.

Pharmacy Technician Degree and Certificate Programs

Athens Alabama pharmacy shelves with prescriptionsIndividuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 2 options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Athens AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.

Pharmacist Tech Available Certifications

It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Athens AL employers will only hire 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 applicant be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, 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 required every two years by both programs, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacy Tech Classes Online

Athens Alabama young female student taking pharmacy technician classes onlinePrior to choosing a pharmacy technician online program, it's important to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in an area Athens pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Athens AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, notably for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online programs are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online school you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the right solution for you.

What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Programs

Once you have decided whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech colleges to choose from in the Athens AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Athens residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are many other factors that you must take into consideration in order to adequately 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? The majority of pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a complete superior education. Online schools may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it might help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Athens 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 numerous pharmacies desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech program needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This qualification may be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.

Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which may be fulfilled through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Athens Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.

Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial position in Athens AL after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any support. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high 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 substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Athens AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide 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 researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist tech program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, check that they are available. 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 need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

How to Learn to Become a Pharmacy Tech in Athens

Enroll in the Right Athens Pharmacy Tech Course

Receiving the best pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting customers with their health is your objective. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician colleges incorporate both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to choose a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate training and commitment you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Athens Alabama.



 

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