How to Pick the Right Pharmacist Tech Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near BirminghamAL, you may be wondering how to choose the ideal school to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many potential students begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are significant concerns when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have many job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Birmingham AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 alternatives to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Birmingham AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Birmingham AL pharmacies will only employ 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 one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Classes
Prior to selecting a pharmacy tech online training program, it's important to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Birmingham pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Birmingham AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials can be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance 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 might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Technician Courses
Once you have decided whether you wish to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are many pharmacist tech colleges 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 community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking 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 school, then location may not be significant. But there are many other variables that you must take into consideration so that you may adequately compare colleges. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a complete quality education. Online schools may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Don't forget to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it might help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Birmingham AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of employers desire that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This qualification may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Check if the programs have associations with Birmingham Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that first position in Birmingham AL upon graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some assistance. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If they do, 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 signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Birmingham AL home. Individuals who have opted 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. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist tech program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Birmingham Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the ideal pharmacist tech training is an important first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where helping people with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician programs incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. 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 as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the right education and determination you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Birmingham Alabama.