How to Enroll In the Right Pharmacy Technician School Near Fairhope Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near FairhopeAL, you might be wondering how to choose the ideal program to receive your education and training. Of course the initial 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 driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical concerns when picking a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. And if you prefer studying at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Job of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians have various job duties, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. 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 since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily functions a pharmacy technician may carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Fairhope AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges opt to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Fairhope AL pharmacies 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 requirements are that the applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Programs
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online college, it's important to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Fairhope pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Fairhope AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, notably for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online program you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the ideal choice 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 want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy tech schools to choose from in the Fairhope AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Fairhope home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are several other issues that you should consider in order to properly compare schools. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it might assist in acquiring 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 many Fairhope AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but numerous pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician program needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of experience for certification, which may be satisfied 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 degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Fairhope Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that initial position in Fairhope AL upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a difficult endeavor without some support. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Fairhope AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. 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 talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Fairhope AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Fairhope Pharmacy Technician School
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to starting your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech colleges incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the appropriate education and determination you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Fairhope Alabama.