How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Technician School Near Athens Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near AthensAL, you might be wondering how to pick the ideal school to get your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to find schools that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated also. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school 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 first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Athens AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever give medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily services a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor 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, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 2 options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Athens AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can furnish 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 many graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Athens AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that is certified. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires 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 work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Schools
Before choosing a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in an area Athens pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to acquire some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Athens AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may 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 employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example 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 might be the ideal solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Programs
Once you have determined whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, 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 pharmacist technician colleges to pick from in the Athens AL area and throughout the United States, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Athens residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are many other issues that you need to take into consideration so that you may adequately compare colleges. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to provide a complete quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Don't forget to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Athens 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 every state, but numerous employers desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician program should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This requirement may be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Athens Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Athens AL after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Athens AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option 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 may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Athens Pharmacy Technician Course
Receiving the best pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where assisting people with their health is your objective. In the past, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies 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 include 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 is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the proper education and determination you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Athens Alabama.