How to Select the Best Pharmacist Technician Course Near Gadsden Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near GadsdenAL, you may be thinking about how to select the ideal program to get your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to find schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of prospective students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation should be considered also. And if you prefer studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing 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 Duties of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have many job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Gadsden AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is a very fulfilling career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Diplomas
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Gadsden AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech colleges choose to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Gadsden AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the applicant 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 just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Classes
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy tech online school, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in an area Gadsden pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to obtain some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Gadsden AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, 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 ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
Once you have determined whether you want to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy tech colleges to select from in the Gadsden AL area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Gadsden residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are several other issues that you should consider so that you may properly compare colleges. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have acquired a national or regional 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 furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online programs may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Don't forget to verify that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it might assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Gadsden AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician program should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification may be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Gadsden Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Getting that initial job in Gadsden AL upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Gadsden AL home. Students 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 choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gadsden AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Gadsden Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where helping customers with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician colleges include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to choose a school that is accredited and will prepare 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 compare schools so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the appropriate training and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Gadsden Alabama.