How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Technician Training Program Near Gardendale Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near GardendaleAL, you might be thinking about just how to select the ideal program to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of future students begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical factors when picking a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job responsibilities, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Gardendale AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily tasks a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions 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 job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Gardendale AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more extensive 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 Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech colleges choose to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Gardendale AL employers will only employ a technician that is certified. There are 2 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 at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Classes
Before deciding on a pharmacy technician online school, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in a local Gardendale pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to get some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Gardendale AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive 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 considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance 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 ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses
After you have decided whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacist technician schools to choose from in the Gardendale AL area and throughout the Country, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Gardendale residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided 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 take into consideration so that you may adequately compare colleges. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacist tech colleges and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Gardendale AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but numerous employers prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech program should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This requirement may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician 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 satisfy the requirement. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Gardendale Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Gardendale AL after graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging task without any support. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Gardendale AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student 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 a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacy technician college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Gardendale AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Gardendale Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the ideal pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where assisting people with their health is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate training and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Gardendale Alabama.