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How to Find the Right Pharmacy Tech School Near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama pharmacy technician stocking shelfHaving made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near AthensAL, you might be wondering how to pick the ideal college to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many potential students begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical factors when picking a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will address 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 benefits of online classes.

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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians

Athens Alabama hospital pharmacy tech wearing lab coat

Pharmacy technicians have numerous job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. 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 precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech may perform are:

  • Welcome and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
  • Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
  • Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
  • Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
  • Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory

As a consequence of their job, 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 at times being required to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career helping customers with their health and wellness.

Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs

Athens Alabama pharmacy stockStudents wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Athens AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.

Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered

Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Athens AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that is certified. There are 2 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 finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacy Tech Online Classes

Athens Alabama young female student taking pharmacy tech training onlineBefore deciding on a pharmacy technician online school, it's necessary to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in a local 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 work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken over the internet in your Athens AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, notably for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Courses

After you have decided whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are numerous pharmacy tech colleges to choose from in the Athens AL area and throughout the United States, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Athens residence. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are several other issues that you should take into consideration so that you may properly compare colleges. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.

Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? Many pharmacy tech colleges and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies 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 colleges may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program together with the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Athens AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.

Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but numerous employers desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech college needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This condition may be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.

Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires a year of experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician 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 an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Athens Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.

Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Finding that initial position in Athens AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult task without any help. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies 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 college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Athens AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at 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 determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, check 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 have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

How to Learn to Become a Pharmacy Technician in Athens

Enroll in the Right Athens Pharmacy Tech Program

Finding the right pharmacist tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where helping customers with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician programs incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to enroll in 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 evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the right training and commitment you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Athens Alabama.



 

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