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How to Find the Best Pharmacy Technician Program Near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama pharmacy technician stocking shelfNow that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near FlorenceAL, you might be pondering just how to pick the right program to receive your education and training. Usually the initial step is to find colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. Many potential students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important factors when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be evaluated also. And if you prefer studying in your home in front 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 cover these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online classes.

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The Job of Pharmacy Techs

Florence Alabama hospital pharmacy tech in lab coat

Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Florence AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily services a pharmacy tech may carry out are:

  • Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
  • Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
  • Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
  • Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
  • Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory

As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career assisting customers with their health and wellness.

Pharmacy Technician Training Programs

Florence Alabama pharmacy shelves with prescriptionsStudents wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 alternatives to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Florence AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.

Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available

It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Florence AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that is certified. There are 2 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, has graduated from high school, 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 mandated every 2 years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacy Tech Online Classes

Florence Alabama young female student taking pharmacy technician courses onlinePrior to selecting a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to realize that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in a local Florence pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Florence AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials can be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important 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 agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online training may be the ideal choice for you.

Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges

Once you have decided whether you wish to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist technician programs to choose from in the Florence AL area and throughout the United States, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Florence residence. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are several other issues that you should consider in order to adequately compare colleges. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.

Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected 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 schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Don't forget to confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Florence AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.

Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech program should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This requirement can be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.

Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get 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. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Florence Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.

Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial job in Florence AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any support. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.

Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Florence AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry 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 college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller 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 classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist tech program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Florence AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.

More on How to Learn to Become a Pharmacy Technician in Florence

Enroll in the Right Florence Pharmacy Tech Course

Getting the right pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist technician programs incorporate both classroom and clinical training. As we have covered in this article, it's important to choose a college that is accredited and will ready 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 certain to make the ideal choice. With the proper education and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Florence Alabama.



 

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