How to Select the Right Pharmacist Tech Program Near Helena Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near HelenaAL, you may be thinking about just how to pick the best college to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many prospective students begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant factors when picking a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated also. And if you prefer attending classes at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will address 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 technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Job of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have various job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Helena AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may 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 medications or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degree and Certificate Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially two alternatives to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Helena AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more comprehensive education and can lead 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.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, many Helena AL employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Programs Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online college, it's necessary to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in a local Helena pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken online in your Helena AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, notably for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for instance 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 best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Programs
Once you have decided whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are many pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Helena AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for programs that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Helena home. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are several other variables that you need to consider so that you may adequately compare schools. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician colleges and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a complete superior education. Online colleges may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance learning. Don't forget to confirm that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Helena AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech school needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This requirement may be met by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates one year of professional experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with 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 certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Helena Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial position in Helena AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a difficult undertaking without some support. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Helena AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy tech school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Helena Pharmacy Tech Course
Receiving the ideal pharmacist technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting people with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist technicians 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 techs. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy technician programs include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the right training and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Helena Alabama.