How to Choose the Best Pharmacy Tech Program Near Helena Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near HelenaAL, you may be pondering how to choose the right college to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. Many potential students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important factors when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be part of 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 benefits of online programs.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
The Job of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy technicians have many job responsibilities, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Helena AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is a very satisfying career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Training Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically 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 diploma or a certificate, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Helena AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician colleges opt to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, a number of Helena AL pharmacies will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Colleges
Before selecting a pharmacist technician online school, it's important to realize that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled 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 in order to get some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Helena AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online school you are considering 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 structured form of education, then online instruction may be the right solution for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
After you have determined whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Helena AL area and throughout the USA, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Helena home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are several other variables that you must consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Many pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Make sure to check that the certificate or degree program together with the college you select 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 may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Helena AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech program should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This qualification can be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which may be met through an internship program. One of the best ways 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 clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Helena Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first position in Helena AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any help. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Helena AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist technician program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Helena Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the ideal pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping customers with their health is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech colleges include both classroom and laboratory training. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to choose a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the proper training and dedication you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Helena Alabama.