How to Find the Best Pharmacist Tech School Near Auburn Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near AuburnAL, you may be wondering just how to select the right school to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate schools that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of potential students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant concerns when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated also. And if you prefer attending classes at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Auburn AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever give 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 technician might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is a very satisfying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Auburn AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Auburn 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 requirements are that the applicant be at least 18 years old, 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 a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online training program, it's necessary to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in a local Auburn pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Auburn AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving 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 important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction may be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs
After you have decided whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist tech colleges to select from in the Auburn AL area and throughout the Country, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Auburn residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are many other factors that you must consider so that you may adequately compare programs. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Be sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Auburn AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but numerous employers desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech school needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This qualification may be fulfilled by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the colleges have a working relationship with Auburn Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial position in Auburn AL after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging endeavor without some support. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Auburn AL home. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Auburn AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Auburn Pharmacy Technician Course
Receiving the right pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to starting your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician programs incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to choose a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the proper education and dedication you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Auburn Alabama.