How to Find the Right Pharmacy Technician Training Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near BirminghamAL, you may be wondering just how to select the right school to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many prospective students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. And if you prefer studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be included in 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 discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
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 operate under the management of a licensed Birmingham AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily tasks a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Birmingham AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and opens doors 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 decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Birmingham AL employers will only employ a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Programs Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacy tech online college, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Birmingham pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to get some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Birmingham AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, notably for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online classes may be the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Technician Courses
Once you have determined whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist technician colleges to pick from in the Birmingham AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Birmingham home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are several other factors that you should consider in order to adequately compare schools. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to furnish a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Birmingham AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This qualification may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which can be satisfied by means of 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 a great way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Birmingham Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Birmingham AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a challenging endeavor without any support. Find out if the schools 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 indicates 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 pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Birmingham AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide 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 type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist tech school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Birmingham Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the ideal pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist tech programs include both clinical and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's important to choose a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate education and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Birmingham Alabama.