How to Find the Right Pharmacy Tech Program Near Cullman Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near CullmanAL, you may be thinking about how to choose the best college to receive your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many future students begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. And if you are interested in studying at home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Function of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Cullman AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control 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, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational 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 aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Cullman AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should provide the necessary amount 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 every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Cullman AL employers will only hire a technician that is certified. 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, be a high school graduate, has completed 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 may be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Programs Online
Before deciding on a pharmacist tech online college, it's necessary to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in an area Cullman pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to get some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed online in your Cullman AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, especially for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online programs are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online program you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, 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 may be the right solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
After you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are many pharmacist tech colleges to choose from in the Cullman AL area and throughout the USA, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Cullman home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other factors that you should take into consideration so that you may properly compare schools. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician colleges and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to provide a complete superior education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible 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 School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech school should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification can be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the colleges have associations with Cullman Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first position in Cullman AL after graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging undertaking without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Cullman AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps 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 typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist tech college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Cullman AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Right Cullman Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the right pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting people with their wellness is your objective. In the past, most pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist tech schools incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to select a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the proper education and determination you can realize your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Cullman Alabama.