How to Select the Best Pharmacist Tech Training Program Near Bessemer Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near BessemerAL, you may be thinking about just how to pick the right college to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. Many potential students start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important concerns when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be evaluated as well. And if you prefer studying at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Function of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Bessemer AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 2 options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Bessemer AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, a number of Bessemer AL employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer 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 mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Programs Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy technician online college, it's important to realize that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in an area Bessemer pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to get some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Bessemer AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and study materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the best solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
After you have determined whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy tech programs to pick from in the Bessemer AL area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Bessemer home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are many other factors that you need to consider so that you may properly compare programs. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? Many pharmacy technician colleges and vocational schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you receive 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 training program is accredited. And a number of Bessemer AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of employers prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech program should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This condition may be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires 1 year of experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train 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 fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Bessemer Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Bessemer AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting task without some help. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, find out 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 demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Bessemer AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college 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 don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer 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 instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Bessemer AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Bessemer Pharmacy Technician Course
Finding the ideal pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their health is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist tech schools incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for classes online 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 certain to make the right selection. With the right training and dedication you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Bessemer Alabama.