How to Find the Best Pharmacist Tech School Near Cullman Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near CullmanAL, you might be thinking about how to choose the best school to get your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate schools that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. Many potential students start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are critical factors when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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The Function of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have various job responsibilities, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Cullman AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily tasks a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work after hours is a very satisfying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 options 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 completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Cullman AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
Certification is not required in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech colleges opt to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Cullman AL employers will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are two 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 finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Colleges
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online training program, it's important to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Cullman pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed over the internet in your Cullman AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for most students, notably for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online programs are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training might be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have determined whether you wish to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech schools to pick from in the Cullman AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Cullman home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you must consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The questions below will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? Most pharmacist 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 provide a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping make sure that you get a superior education, it may help in getting financial aid 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 Cullman AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacy technician school should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This requirement may be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Cullman Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Cullman AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a challenging undertaking without any support. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Cullman AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type 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. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist tech program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Cullman AL area, confirm 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, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Cullman Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the best pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician programs include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the proper training and dedication you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Cullman Alabama.