How to Choose the Best Pharmacist Technician School Near Auburn Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near AuburnAL, you might be pondering just how to pick the right program to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. A number of future students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important concerns when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means 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 go over these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have various job functions, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Auburn AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever give medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily services a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact 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 technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree and Certificate Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives 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 accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Auburn AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Available Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician schools opt to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, a number of Auburn AL pharmacies will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by each program, which can be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Programs Online
Before choosing a pharmacist technician online training program, it's necessary to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in a local Auburn pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken over the internet in your Auburn AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Technician Courses
Once you have determined whether you want to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech programs to select from in the Auburn AL area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Auburn home. If you are willing to relocate 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 factors that you should consider so that you may adequately compare schools. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? Many pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among 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 comprehensive superior education. Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it might help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And many Auburn AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but numerous employers desire that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacy technician program needs to prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This condition can be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which may be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical 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 a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Auburn Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Auburn AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a challenging task without any support. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has a good reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Auburn AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges 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 a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist tech college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Auburn AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Auburn Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the ideal pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting people with their wellness is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician schools include both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to choose a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the right training and dedication you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Auburn Alabama.