How to Find the Best Pharmacist Tech Program Near Bessemer Alabama
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near BessemerAL, you may be pondering how to choose the ideal college to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to find colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. Many future students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant factors when choosing a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be evaluated also. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers 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 tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Job of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Bessemer AL pharmacist. They must also have good 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 directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Training Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Bessemer AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Bessemer AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which can be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Programs Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online program, it's important to understand that most schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in an area Bessemer pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Bessemer AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are considering 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 supervised form of education, then online training might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses
After you have determined whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacy technician colleges to choose from in the Bessemer AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for programs that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Bessemer home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are many other issues that you need to take into consideration so that you may effectively compare schools. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to furnish a complete superior education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Bessemer AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech school should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement may be satisfied by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy 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 Help? Getting that initial job in Bessemer AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any help. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Bessemer AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Bessemer AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Bessemer Pharmacy Technician School
Receiving the best pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician colleges include both clinical and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to select a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the right training and determination you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Bessemer Alabama.