How to Pick the Right Pharmacy Tech Course Near East Florence Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near East FlorenceAL, you may be wondering just how to pick the right program to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many potential students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant factors when deciding on a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated also. 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 part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some 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 degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have many job responsibilities, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed East Florence AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily services a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is a very gratifying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two options to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved East Florence AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually takes 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. Each program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of East Florence AL employers 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 candidate 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 graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Schools
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy tech online college, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local East Florence pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your East Florence AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive 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 each online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, 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 right solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
Once you have determined whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy tech colleges to pick from in the East Florence AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your East Florence home. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are many other issues that you must take into consideration so that you may properly compare programs. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have obtained 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 certified to furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Be sure to verify that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it might assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of East Florence 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 techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech college needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This requirement may be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Check if the programs have associations with East Florence Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Getting that first position in East Florence AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a difficult task without any help. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs. If they do, 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 indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their East Florence AL residence. Students who have chosen 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 importance. 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical 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 an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the East Florence AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best East Florence Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the best pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting people with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy technician schools include both classroom and clinical work. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to select a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the best choice. With the right training and dedication you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in East Florence Alabama.