How to Find the Right Pharmacy Tech College Near Decatur Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near DecaturAL, you may be wondering how to choose the right school to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. A number of prospective students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are significant concerns when picking a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, 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 Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Decatur AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily services a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is a very satisfying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Training Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 options to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Decatur AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician schools opt to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, many Decatur AL pharmacies will only employ a tech that is certified. 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, 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 graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Programs
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online school, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Decatur pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to get some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Decatur AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
Once you have determined whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy technician schools to choose from in the Decatur AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Decatur home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other issues that you need to take into consideration in order to adequately compare schools. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician colleges and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Decatur AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but numerous employers prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech school should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This requirement may be fulfilled by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Decatur Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial position in Decatur AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any help. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Decatur AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer 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 classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist tech program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Decatur AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Decatur Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the right pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting people with their health is your purpose. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy technician schools include both clinical and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the proper training and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Decatur Alabama.