How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacist Tech Program Near Auburn Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near AuburnAL, you may be pondering how to select the best college to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of future students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated also. And if you prefer studying at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Auburn AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily services a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is an extremely gratifying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Diplomas
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Auburn AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Auburn AL employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Classes
Before deciding on a pharmacist tech online college, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Auburn pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy technician so as to obtain some work place 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 alternative is more convenient for most students, notably for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online training might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
Once you have determined whether you would like to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacy tech schools to select from in the Auburn AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Auburn residence. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other variables that you need to consider so that you may effectively compare schools. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, it may help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Auburn AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many pharmacies desire that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech school should prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work 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 fulfill the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Auburn Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Auburn AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some assistance. Ask if the colleges you are researching 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 generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Auburn AL home. Those 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 concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist tech college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Auburn AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Auburn Pharmacy Technician School
Getting the best pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their health is your mission. In the past, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician programs incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to select a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate education and commitment you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Auburn Alabama.