How to Choose the Right Pharmacy Technician College Near Fairhope Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near FairhopeAL, you might be wondering just how to choose the best program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to find colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. A number of future students begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when selecting a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. And if you prefer studying at home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians have many job responsibilities, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Fairhope AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription information 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 control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly 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 people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 alternatives to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Fairhope AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools choose to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Fairhope AL employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Colleges
Prior to selecting a pharmacist tech online program, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in a local Fairhope pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken online in your Fairhope AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online colleges are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials can be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged 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 best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
Once you have decided whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist technician schools to choose from in the Fairhope AL area and throughout the USA, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Fairhope home. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are several other variables that you must take into consideration in order to adequately compare programs. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Tech Program Accredited? Many pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have acquired 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 certified to furnish a complete superior education. Online colleges may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Fairhope AL pharmacies 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 pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This condition may be fulfilled by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which may be met by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Fairhope Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Fairhope AL upon graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a challenging endeavor without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Fairhope AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fairhope AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify 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 as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Fairhope Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the best pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where helping people with their health is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech colleges include both clinical and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the appropriate education and commitment you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Fairhope Alabama.