How to Find the Best Pharmacist Technician School Near Gardendale Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near GardendaleAL, you might be wondering just how to select the right school to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of future students start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation must be evaluated also. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
The Job of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians have many job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Gardendale AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily functions a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Gardendale AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative 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 comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Available Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Gardendale AL employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Programs
Before deciding on a pharmacist tech online school, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in an area Gardendale pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken online in your Gardendale AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online training might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
Once you have determined whether you would like to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to select from in the Gardendale AL area and throughout the United States, so you must develop 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 first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Gardendale residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other factors that you need to consider in order to adequately compare programs. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have earned a regional or national 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 offer a complete superior education. Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in getting 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 many Gardendale AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many employers prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech program needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by participating 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 by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Gardendale Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial position in Gardendale AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some help. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, find out 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 indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Gardendale AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy technician school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Gardendale AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Gardendale Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the ideal pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where assisting people with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician colleges include both clinical and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to select a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the best choice. With the proper training and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Gardendale Alabama.