How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Technician Program Near Calera Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near CaleraAL, you may be pondering just how to select the best school to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. A number of potential students start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant concerns when selecting a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will address 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 benefits of online classes.
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The Function of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Calera AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily functions a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 alternatives to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Calera AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges opt to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Calera AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant 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 Programs
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy tech online school, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in an area Calera pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to acquire some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed online in your Calera AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials can be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
Once you have determined whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy tech colleges to pick from in the Calera AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Calera home. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are many other factors that you need to take into consideration in order to properly compare colleges. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to provide a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Calera AL pharmacies 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 every state, but numerous employers desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician college should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This condition may be met by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the schools have associations with Calera Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Calera AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without some support. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Calera AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher 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 an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Calera AL area, make sure that they are available. 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 carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
More on How to Learn to Become a Pharmacy Technician in Calera
Enroll in the Right Calera Pharmacy Tech Course
Receiving the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where helping people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech colleges include both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the best choice. With the right education and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Calera Alabama.
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