How to Select the Right Pharmacist Tech College Near Enterprise Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near EnterpriseAL, you might be thinking about how to select the best college to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many prospective students start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in studying at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job responsibilities, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Enterprise AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work after hours is a very gratifying career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Diplomas
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically 2 options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Enterprise AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools opt to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Enterprise AL employers will only employ a technician 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, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Classes Online
Before selecting a pharmacist technician online program, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in an area Enterprise pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to receive some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Enterprise AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials can be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online training may be the best solution for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses
After you have determined whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician colleges to pick from in the Enterprise AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Enterprise home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other variables that you must consider so that you may adequately compare colleges. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Don't forget to verify that the degree or certificate program together with the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Enterprise AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This condition may be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Enterprise Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Enterprise AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without any support. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement 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 profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Enterprise 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 local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy tech college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Enterprise AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Enterprise Pharmacy Technician Program
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where helping people with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist tech colleges incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to enroll in a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the proper education and determination you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Enterprise Alabama.