How to Choose the Best Pharmacy Technician School Near Auburn Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near AuburnAL, you may be pondering how to choose the ideal program to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. A number of potential students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated also. And if you are interested in attending classes 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 cover these qualifications and some others that you will need 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 programs.
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The Function of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Auburn AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily functions a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two alternatives to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Auburn AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications Available
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech programs elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Auburn AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that is certified. There are two 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 completed 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 examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Schools
Prior to choosing a pharmacy technician online program, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in an area Auburn pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician so as to obtain some real world experience. However 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 accommodating for many students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online program 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 structured form of education, then online training may be the right solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs
After you have determined whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician programs to select from in the Auburn AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Auburn home. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are several other factors that you need to consider so that you may properly compare colleges. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Make sure to verify that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping ensure that you get a superior education, it might help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Auburn AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech program needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This requirement can be met by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which may be fulfilled by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have associations with Auburn Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first position in Auburn AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging endeavor without some assistance. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, find out 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 signifies that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Auburn AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Auburn AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Right Auburn Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the ideal pharmacy tech training is an important first step to launching your career in a fulfilling profession where helping people with their wellness is your objective. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy technician colleges include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the right education and determination you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Auburn Alabama.