How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Technician College Near Hartselle Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near HartselleAL, you might be pondering how to select the best college to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many future students start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical factors when selecting a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. And if you prefer attending classes at home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online courses.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
The Function of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have many job duties, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Hartselle AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily functions a pharmacy technician may carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is a very satisfying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Training Programs
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 two alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Hartselle AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to become certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Hartselle AL employers will only hire a tech that is certified. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished 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 examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Programs
Prior to selecting a pharmacist tech online program, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in a local Hartselle pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken online in your Hartselle AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are looking at 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 structured form of education, then online instruction may be the best solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
Once you have decided whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacy technician colleges to pick from in the Hartselle AL area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Hartselle home. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are many other variables that you should consider in order to adequately compare colleges. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? Most pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools 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 only with online or distance learning. Be sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, it might help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Hartselle AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but numerous pharmacies desire that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacy technician school needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification may be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates a year of job experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get 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 meet the requirement. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Hartselle Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Hartselle AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting task without some help. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Hartselle AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear 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 looking at what the average 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Hartselle AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Hartselle Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the best pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where helping people with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy technician colleges incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to choose a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the right training and determination you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Hartselle Alabama.