How to Select the Best Pharmacy Technician Training Program Near Gadsden Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near GadsdenAL, you might be wondering just how to choose the ideal school to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many potential students start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important concerns when choosing a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated also. And if you are interested in studying at home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Duties of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Gadsden AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily functions a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature 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 reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Diplomas
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Gadsden AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 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 in the future. Either program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges opt to become certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, many Gadsden AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 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 professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges
Before deciding on a pharmacy tech online college, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in a local Gadsden pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to acquire some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Gadsden AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online program you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online classes might be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Technician Colleges
After you have decided whether you wish to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Gadsden AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Gadsden home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are several other issues that you need to take into consideration in order to effectively compare schools. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? Many pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to furnish a complete quality education. Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Be sure to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it might help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Gadsden AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician school should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This condition may be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled by means of an internship program. One of the best ways 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 practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Gadsden Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that initial job in Gadsden AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging endeavor without any support. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing 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 generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Gadsden AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher 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 a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacist technician school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gadsden AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Gadsden Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the ideal pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting people with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy technician colleges incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate training and dedication you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Gadsden Alabama.