How to Choose the Right Pharmacy Tech College Near Calera Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near CaleraAL, you may be pondering how to select the right school to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. A number of future students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important factors when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. And if you prefer attending classes at home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Technician
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 perform under the management of a licensed Calera AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily duties a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is a very gratifying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Calera AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Calera AL pharmacies 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, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Classes
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online college, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in an area Calera pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to acquire some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Calera AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online training might be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you wish to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Calera AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Calera home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are many other variables that you must consider in order to adequately compare programs. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a complete superior education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Be sure to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Calera AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician program should prepare 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 can be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Check if the schools have associations with Calera Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial job in Calera AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult undertaking without some help. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs. If so, find out 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 indicates that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Calera AL home. Individuals 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 importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school 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 generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy tech college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Calera AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Calera Pharmacy Tech Course
Receiving the ideal pharmacy tech training is an important first step to launching your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician schools include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the right education and dedication you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Calera Alabama.