How to Pick the Right Pharmacy Technician College Near Fairhope Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near FairhopeAL, you might be pondering just how to choose the ideal college to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many prospective students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical concerns when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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The Responsibilities of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Fairhope AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily tasks a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Fairhope AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Also, a number of Fairhope AL employers will only employ a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, 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 exam. Recertification is called for every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy tech online training program, it's important to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly satisfied in a local Fairhope pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician so as to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Fairhope AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, notably for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Programs
After you have decided whether you wish to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are many pharmacy technician schools to pick from in the Fairhope AL area and throughout the USA, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Fairhope home. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other factors that you must take into consideration so that you may effectively compare programs. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Many pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Make 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 make sure that you receive a quality education, it can assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Fairhope AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech school should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This requirement may be met by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of professional experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work 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 satisfy the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Fairhope Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial position in Fairhope AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a challenging undertaking without any help. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Fairhope AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. 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 opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Fairhope AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Fairhope Pharmacy Tech Course
Finding the right pharmacist tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping people with their wellness is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this 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. Most pharmacist technician programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the right education and dedication you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Fairhope Alabama.