How to Find the Right Pharmacy Technician Program Near Cullman Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near CullmanAL, you may be pondering how to pick the right college to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of potential students begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical concerns when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. And if you prefer attending classes at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Role of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have numerous job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Cullman AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines 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 instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence 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 techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Cullman AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Cullman AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that is certified. 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 work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges
Before choosing a pharmacist tech online college, it's important to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in an area Cullman pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to acquire some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Cullman AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online college 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 learn with a less structured form of education, then online training might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Programs
After you have determined whether you would like to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to choose from in the Cullman AL area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Cullman home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are many other variables that you must take into consideration so that you may adequately compare colleges. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have earned a regional or national 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 furnish a complete quality education. Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it might help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And many Cullman AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but numerous employers prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech college should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This condition may be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Cullman Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Finding that initial job in Cullman AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a challenging task without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher 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 lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Cullman AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at 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 decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy technician school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Cullman AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option 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 may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Cullman Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the right pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting customers with their health is your objective. In the past, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy technician programs incorporate both clinical and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to select a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the appropriate education and determination you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Cullman Alabama.