How to Enroll In the Right Pharmacist Tech College Near Florence Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near FlorenceAL, you may be pondering how to select the ideal school to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many future students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant factors when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated 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 college will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have various job duties, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Florence AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the common daily tasks a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is a very gratifying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degree and Certificate Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two alternatives to becoming 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 completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Florence AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically involves 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 in the future. Either program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech colleges elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Florence AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant 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 required every 2 years by both programs, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Schools
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online program, it's necessary to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Florence pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed online in your Florence AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials can be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction may be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
Once you have decided whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Florence AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Florence residence. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are several other factors that you should consider in order to effectively compare schools. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Most pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a complete superior education. Online schools may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it might help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training 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 Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many employers desire that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician school needs to prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This condition may be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Florence Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Florence AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any support. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Florence AL residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes 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 bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy technician school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to 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 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Florence Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the right pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech schools incorporate both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed 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 online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the proper training and determination you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Florence Alabama.