How to Find the Right Pharmacy Tech Course Near Decatur Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near DecaturAL, you might be wondering how to pick the best program to receive your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important factors when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover 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 programs.
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The Duties of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have numerous job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Decatur AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be dealing 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 in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist 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 provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily duties a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school 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 typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various 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 normally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive 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 Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Decatur AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide 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 completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Colleges Online
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online program, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in an area Decatur pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Decatur AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials can be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are reviewing 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 formal type of education, then online classes may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech colleges to pick from in the Decatur AL area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Decatur home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are several other issues that you must take into consideration in order to effectively compare schools. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Decatur AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of employers desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech college needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This qualification may be fulfilled by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which may be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the schools have associations with Decatur Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Decatur AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging task without some help. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Decatur AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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 person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacist tech school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Decatur AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Decatur Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to launching your career in a rewarding occupation where helping people with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech schools incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the proper education and commitment you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Decatur Alabama.