How to Find the Right Pharmacist Technician Training Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near BirminghamAL, you might be thinking about how to choose the best program to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. Many future students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when selecting a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation must be evaluated also. And if you prefer studying in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have many job duties, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Birmingham AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily tasks a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is a very satisfying career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically 2 alternatives to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Birmingham AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 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 furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech colleges elect to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Birmingham AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Schools
Before deciding on a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to realize that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in a local Birmingham pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken online in your Birmingham AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for most students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online college you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
Once you have decided whether you would like to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy tech colleges to select from in the Birmingham AL area and throughout the United States, 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 probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Birmingham residence. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are many other factors that you must take into consideration in order to effectively compare schools. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a complete quality education. Online colleges may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Birmingham AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of employers prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician program should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This requirement can be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Birmingham Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Birmingham AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a challenging endeavor without some assistance. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating demand 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 choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Birmingham AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online 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 program that is out of state or even 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 often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering 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 final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy technician college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, confirm that they are available. 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 work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Birmingham Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the best pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where helping people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech programs include both clinical and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to select a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the appropriate education and commitment you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Birmingham Alabama.