How to Select the Best Pharmacist Technician Training Program Near Gardendale Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near GardendaleAL, you may be pondering how to pick the best program to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of potential students begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important concerns when choosing a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be evaluated also. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college 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 certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Gardendale AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two options to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Gardendale AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed 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 should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech colleges opt to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, many Gardendale AL employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, 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 candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Programs
Prior to choosing a pharmacy technician online program, it's necessary to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in an area Gardendale pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to obtain some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Gardendale AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online colleges are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online instruction may be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Courses
After you have determined whether you want 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 begin to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist technician colleges to select from in the Gardendale AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Gardendale home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other variables that you must take into consideration in order to adequately compare colleges. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech colleges and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a comprehensive superior education. Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Gardendale AL employers 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 mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech college needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This condition may be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which may be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the programs have a working relationship with Gardendale Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Gardendale AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging task without any support. Ask if the schools you are considering 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 a good reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Gardendale AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even 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.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher 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 talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gardendale AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check 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 due to illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Right Gardendale Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the right pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist tech programs include both classroom and clinical work. 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 is true both for online classes 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 ideal choice. With the appropriate training and dedication you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Gardendale Alabama.