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How to Select the Best Pharmacy Technician Course Near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama pharmacy technician stocking shelfHaving decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near FlorenceAL, you may be wondering how to pick the right program to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. Many potential students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important factors when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation should be evaluated also. And if you prefer 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 included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online classes.

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The Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Technician

Florence Alabama hospital pharmacy technician wearing lab coat

Pharmacy technicians have numerous job responsibilities, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform 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 precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:

  • Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
  • Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
  • Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
  • Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
  • Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory

As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career assisting customers with their health and wellness.

Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees

Florence Alabama pharmacy shelves with prescriptionsStudents wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Florence AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.

Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available

It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Also, a number of Florence AL employers will only employ a technician that is certified. 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 completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges

Florence Alabama young female student taking pharmacy tech courses onlineBefore deciding on a pharmacist technician online training program, it's necessary to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in a local Florence pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to get some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Florence AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, notably for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online schools are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials may be reduced significantly. 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 any online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction may be the right solution for you.

Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Programs

After you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy tech schools to choose from in the Florence AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Florence residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are many other issues that you must consider in order to effectively compare colleges. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.

Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online schools may additionally earn 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 as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may 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 School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech school should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This requirement may be satisfied by participating in a college sponsored internship program.

Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Florence Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.

Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial position in Florence AL upon graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some assistance. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Florence AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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 Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy technician program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Florence AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

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

Find the Best Florence Pharmacy Technician School

Getting the ideal pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where assisting people with their wellness is your mission. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy tech colleges include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to choose a school that is accredited and will ready 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 evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the proper education and determination you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Florence Alabama.



 

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