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How to Select the Best Pharmacy Tech Program Near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama pharmacy technician stocking shelfHaving decided to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near HomewoodAL, you may be thinking about how to choose the ideal college to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many prospective students start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are significant factors when selecting a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. And if you prefer studying at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.

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The Duties of a Pharmacy Technician

Homewood Alabama hospital pharmacy tech wearing lab coat

Pharmacy techs have multiple job duties, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Homewood AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy technician might perform are:

  • Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
  • Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
  • Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
  • Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
  • Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Stock shelves and audit and control inventory

As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career assisting people with their health and well-being.

Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees

Homewood Alabama pharmacy shelves with prescriptionsIndividuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Homewood AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.

Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications

Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Homewood AL employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that provide 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 completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by both programs, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacy Tech Programs Online

Homewood Alabama young woman taking pharmacy technician training onlineBefore choosing a pharmacy tech online program, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in a local Homewood pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to obtain some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken online in your Homewood AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, especially for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online program 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 learn with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the best solution for you.

Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Programs

After you have decided whether you wish to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy technician schools to choose from in the Homewood AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to 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 schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Homewood home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are many other issues that you need to take into consideration so that you may effectively compare schools. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.

Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? Most pharmacist tech colleges and trade schools have obtained a national or regional 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 certified to offer a complete quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Make sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Homewood AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.

Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of employers desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech program 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 school sponsored internship program.

Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train 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 fulfill the requirement. Find out if the colleges have associations with Homewood Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.

Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Homewood AL upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a difficult task without any assistance. Find out if the colleges you are researching 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 an excellent reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can refer graduating students.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Homewood AL residence. Those who have decided 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 consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Homewood AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out How to Train to Become a Pharmacy Technician in Homewood

Find the Best Homewood Pharmacy Tech Program

Receiving the ideal pharmacy tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy tech programs include both classroom and laboratory training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in 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 follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the right education and determination you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Homewood Alabama.



 

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