How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Technician Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near BirminghamAL, you may be thinking about just how to pick the right program to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate schools that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of prospective students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important concerns when picking a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at the certificate and degree options available.
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Pharmacy Technician Degrees
A pharmacy technician diploma or certificate program can be completed in one year or less and provides the basic education and training needed to sit for the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam. These programs introduce students to basic concepts in pharmaceutical technology, record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics, and pharmacology. They typically include a combination of classroom learning and lab training so that students learn how to dispense medication, prepare sterile products, and manage prescription orders. Students interested in a more comprehensive educational experience can enroll in a pharmacy technician associate degree program. Although a degree is not required to apply for entry-level positions, some students choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree so they can advance in their careers and apply for jobs as a compounding lab technician, pharmacy service technician, pharmacy implementation specialist or similar roles. Earning an associate degree can also help a student prepare for a Bachelor of Pharmacy or a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
What to Ask Pharmacy 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 go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech schools to choose from in the Birmingham AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Birmingham home. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are many other issues that you should consider so that you may effectively compare programs. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, it can help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Birmingham AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but numerous pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacist technician school needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This qualification may be met by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of experience for certification, which may be satisfied through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Birmingham Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial job in Birmingham AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a challenging undertaking without some support. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Birmingham AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching 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 a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy technician college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Birmingham Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the best pharmacist tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where helping people with their health is your objective. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to choose a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the proper training and determination you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Birmingham Alabama.