How to Select the Best Pharmacist Technician Course Near Florence Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near FlorenceAL, you might be thinking about just how to select the right program to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. Many prospective students start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, 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 should be taken into account also. And if you are interested in studying at home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Responsibilities of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Florence AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may 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 pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily tasks a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work after hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, 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 usually include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Florence AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, a number of Florence AL employers will only employ a technician that has earned certification. 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 mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Colleges Online
Before selecting a pharmacist technician online program, it's necessary to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in a local Florence pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to acquire some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken online in your Florence AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online classes may be the ideal solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
Once you have determined whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are many pharmacist technician programs to select from in the Florence AL area and throughout the United States, so you should 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 initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Florence home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are many other factors that you need to consider so that you may effectively compare schools. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? Many pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance learning. Don't forget to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Florence AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many employers desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician program needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This condition can be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with 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 technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Florence Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Securing that initial job in Florence AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without any support. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Florence AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy tech school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Florence AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Florence Pharmacy Technician School
Receiving the right pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to starting your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting people with their wellness is your mission. In the past, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy technician schools incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the appropriate training and dedication you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Florence Alabama.