How to Pick the Right Pharmacy Technician College Near Helena Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near HelenaAL, you may be pondering just how to choose the best program to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. A number of potential students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when comparing 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 programs.
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The Role of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Helena AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is a very gratifying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Helena AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Helena AL pharmacies will only employ a tech 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 candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Schools
Before deciding on a pharmacy technician online training program, it's necessary to understand that most schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in an area Helena pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy technician so as to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Helena AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while earning 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 complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the ideal solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have determined whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy tech schools to select from in the Helena AL area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Helena residence. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are several other factors that you should take into consideration so that you may adequately compare schools. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Helena AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College 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 pharmacist technician school needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This requirement may be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of professional experience for certification, which may be fulfilled by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Helena Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial job in Helena AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging endeavor without any help. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Helena AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind 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 normally 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 Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist technician school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, check that they are offered. 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 enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Helena Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the right pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting people with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory work. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to choose a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the best choice. With the proper education and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Helena Alabama.