How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Technician School Near Athens Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near AthensAL, you may be wondering how to select the best college to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many prospective students start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical factors when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address 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 technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Athens AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily tasks a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is a very fulfilling career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Athens AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Athens AL pharmacies will only employ 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 at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which can be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Programs Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacist tech online school, it's important to understand that most programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Athens pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to acquire some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed over the internet in your Athens AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, notably for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction may be the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Programs
Once you have decided whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are many pharmacy tech colleges to select from in the Athens AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Athens home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are several other variables that you should consider in order to effectively compare schools. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? Many pharmacist tech 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 furnish a complete quality education. Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping make sure that you get a superior education, it might help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Athens AL pharmacies 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 all states, but numerous employers desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech program should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates a year of experience for certification, which may be satisfied through 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 tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Athens Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Athens AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any 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 field creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Athens AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school 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 typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing 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 final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Best Athens Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the ideal pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a rewarding profession where assisting customers with their wellness is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician colleges include both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the appropriate education and dedication you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Athens Alabama.