How to Choose the Right Pharmacy Tech Program Near Bessemer Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near BessemerAL, you may be wondering how to select the best school to get your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. Many future students start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important factors when picking a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. And if you prefer attending classes at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Role of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have various job functions, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Bessemer AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily services a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. 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 occasionally being required to work after hours is a very fulfilling career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech 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 essentially two options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Bessemer AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically takes about 2 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 provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech programs opt to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Bessemer AL employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are two 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 candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Colleges Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacy technician online program, it's important to understand that most schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in a local Bessemer pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Bessemer AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, 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 classes may be the best solution for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
After you have decided whether you would like to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist tech schools to choose from in the Bessemer AL area and throughout the USA, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Bessemer home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other variables that you must take into consideration in order to effectively compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Many pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a complete quality education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And many Bessemer AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of pharmacies desire that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician program should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which can be fulfilled by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Bessemer Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Bessemer AL after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a challenging endeavor without any support. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Bessemer AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college 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 commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate 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 as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Bessemer AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify 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 work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Bessemer Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the best pharmacist technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where helping people with their wellness is your objective. In the past, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician colleges incorporate both classroom and clinical 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 online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate training and commitment you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Bessemer Alabama.