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How to Select the Best Pharmacist Technician Course Near Bessemer Alabama

Bessemer Alabama pharmacy tech stocking shelfHaving decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near BessemerAL, you might be thinking about just how to select the ideal college to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many potential students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important concerns when choosing a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation must be evaluated also. And if you are interested in studying 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 go over these qualifications and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.

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The Job of a Pharmacy Technician

Bessemer Alabama hospital pharmacy technician wearing lab coat

Pharmacy techs have multiple job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Bessemer AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist 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 offer medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech might perform are:

  • Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
  • Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
  • Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
  • Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
  • Complete 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 on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is a very fulfilling career helping customers with their health and well-being.

Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees

Bessemer Alabama pharmacy shelves with prescriptionsStudents wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Bessemer AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.

Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered

Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Bessemer AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide 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 completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacy Tech Online Schools

Bessemer Alabama young female student taking pharmacy tech courses onlineBefore selecting a pharmacist technician online college, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Bessemer pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician so as to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Bessemer AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials can be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are considering 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 supervised form of education, then online instruction may be the ideal choice for you.

What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Courses

Once you have decided whether you wish to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Bessemer AL area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Bessemer residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are many other issues that you should take into consideration so that you may adequately compare programs. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.

Is the Pharmacist Tech College Accredited? Many pharmacist 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to furnish a complete quality education. Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Be sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Besides helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Bessemer AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.

Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech college should prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification may be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.

Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the colleges have associations with Bessemer Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.

Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that first position in Bessemer AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting task without some assistance. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has a good reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduates.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Bessemer AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Bessemer AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Find Out How to Train to Become a Pharmacy Tech in Bessemer

Find the Best Bessemer Pharmacy Technician School

Getting the ideal pharmacist tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician schools include both classroom and laboratory training. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are sure to make the best selection. With the right training and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Bessemer Alabama.



 

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