How to Find the Best Pharmacy Tech Course Near Decatur Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near DecaturAL, you might be wondering just how to pick the best school to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of future students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important factors when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Role of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy technicians have many job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Decatur AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy technician may carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two alternatives to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Decatur AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Available 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 competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Decatur AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that is certified. There are 2 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, has graduated from high school, has finished 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 can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Schools Online
Before deciding on a pharmacist technician online college, it's important to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in a local Decatur pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to obtain some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Decatur AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, notably for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online colleges are frequently less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and study materials can be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online 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 confirm that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online instruction may be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have determined whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy technician colleges to select from in the Decatur AL area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Decatur residence. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are many other factors that you need to consider so that you may properly compare schools. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? Many pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. Among 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 quality education. Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Don't forget to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Decatur AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist technician school should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This requirement can be satisfied by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Decatur Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Securing that first position in Decatur AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a challenging task without any support. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, 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 profession generating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Decatur AL residence. Students 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. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Decatur 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 credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Decatur Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to starting your career in a gratifying occupation where helping people with their wellness is your objective. In the past, 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 educated techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist tech programs incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the appropriate training and determination you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Decatur Alabama.