How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Technician College Near Fort Payne Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near Fort PayneAL, you might be thinking about how to choose the ideal program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to find schools that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of future students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are significant concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation must be evaluated as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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The Function of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job duties, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Fort Payne AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medicines 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 in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Enter customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply 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 evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is a very fulfilling career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degree and Certificate Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Fort Payne AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Fort Payne 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 requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, 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 applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Classes
Before choosing a pharmacist technician online program, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Fort Payne pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy technician so as to acquire some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Fort Payne AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have determined whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy tech programs to choose from in the Fort Payne AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Fort Payne home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other issues that you need to consider in order to properly compare programs. The following questions 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 colleges and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a complete superior education. Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Make sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it might help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Fort Payne AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but numerous pharmacies desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech school should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This condition can be met by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have associations with Fort Payne Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Fort Payne AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some assistance. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication 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 contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Fort Payne AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacy technician school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Fort Payne AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Fort Payne Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the ideal pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician schools include both clinical and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the appropriate education and determination you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Fort Payne Alabama.