How to Pick the Right Pharmacy Technician Training Program Near Gardendale Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near GardendaleAL, you might be thinking about just how to choose the best program to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many prospective students start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant factors when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. And if you are interested in studying at home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have various job duties, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Gardendale AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be working 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 in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms 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 give medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete 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 evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is a very gratifying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree and Certificate Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Gardendale AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges opt to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, many Gardendale AL employers will only hire a tech that is certified. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Programs
Before choosing a pharmacist technician online program, it's important to realize that most schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Gardendale pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Gardendale AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials can 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 important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online training might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
Once you have determined whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, 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 a large number of pharmacist tech colleges to select from in the Gardendale AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Gardendale residence. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other issues that you must take into consideration in order to effectively compare colleges. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacy technician colleges and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to furnish a complete quality education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Be sure to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it might assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Gardendale 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 required in all states, but a number of employers desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician college needs to prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This requirement can be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Gardendale Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Finding that initial job in Gardendale AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a difficult undertaking without some support. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Gardendale AL home. Those who have decided 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. 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gardendale AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
How to Learn to Become a Pharmacy Tech in Gardendale
Find the Best Gardendale Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the right pharmacist tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. In the past, most pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, 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 trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist tech colleges include both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to enroll in a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the appropriate education and dedication you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Gardendale Alabama.
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