How to Select the Best Pharmacist Technician Program Near Cullman Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near CullmanAL, you may be thinking about just how to pick the best college to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. Many prospective students start by searching for colleges that are within driving 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 including accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. And if you are interested in studying at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications 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 degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Function of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have multiple job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Cullman AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 alternatives to training to be a technician whether 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 present an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Cullman AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools choose to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, many Cullman AL employers will only employ 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 applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Schools Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy tech online college, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Cullman pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken 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 continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online programs are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 instruction may be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Programs
Once you have decided whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician colleges to select from in the Cullman AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Cullman residence. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are several other variables that you must take into consideration so that you may adequately compare programs. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacy technician colleges and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to furnish a complete quality education. Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it might help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Cullman 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 all states, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacy tech college should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This qualification can be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates a year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Cullman Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Cullman AL after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging task without some assistance. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has a good reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Cullman AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? 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 prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse 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 last you need to confirm that the pharmacist tech college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Cullman AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Cullman Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the ideal pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way 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 include both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to select a program that is accredited and will prep 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 certain to make the ideal choice. With the right education and determination you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Cullman Alabama.