How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Tech College Near Gadsden Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near GadsdenAL, you may be wondering how to choose the best program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important concerns when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. And if you prefer studying in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job functions, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Gadsden AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs 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 occasionally being required to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 2 alternatives to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Gadsden AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Gadsden AL pharmacies will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Schools
Before choosing a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to understand that most programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in an area Gadsden pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to get some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Gadsden AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online program 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 supervised form of education, then online instruction might be the best solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy tech schools to choose from in the Gadsden AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Gadsden home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other variables that you must consider in order to properly compare schools. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Gadsden 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 mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech school should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires a year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician 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 fulfill the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Gadsden Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Getting that initial job in Gadsden AL upon graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some support. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing 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 creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Gadsden AL residence. Students who have opted 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 program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacy technician college you ultimately select 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 Gadsden AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Gadsden Pharmacy Technician Program
Finding the right pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting people with their wellness is your objective. In the past, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist tech schools incorporate both clinical and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to choose a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the proper education and determination you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Gadsden Alabama.