How to Pick the Right Pharmacy Technician School Near Foley Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near FoleyAL, you might be thinking about how to select the best college to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant factors when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be included in 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 technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Responsibilities of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have numerous job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Foley AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily functions a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is a very gratifying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Foley AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to get certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Foley AL employers will only hire a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that provide 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 one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Programs
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online college, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Foley pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed over the internet in your Foley AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online programs are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. 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 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 structured form of education, then online instruction might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you wish to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist technician programs to select from in the Foley AL area and throughout the USA, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Foley home. If you are able to move 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 need to take into consideration so that you may properly compare colleges. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacist Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Make sure to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it may help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Foley 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 required in all states, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech program needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This qualification may be satisfied by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which may be satisfied through 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 degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Foley Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial job in Foley AL after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult task without any help. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Foley AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacy tech college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Foley AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Foley Pharmacy Technician School
Receiving the right pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a fulfilling profession where helping people with their health is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician programs include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's important to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the proper education and dedication you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Foley Alabama.