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How to Select the Right Pharmacy Tech College Near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama pharmacy tech stocking shelfNow that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near HomewoodAL, you might be wondering how to choose the right program to receive your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. Many prospective students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant concerns when selecting a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated as well. And if you prefer attending classes at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.

It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below

The Duties of a Pharmacy Tech

Homewood Alabama hospital pharmacy tech in lab coat

Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Homewood AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily duties a pharmacy technician may carry out are:

  • Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
  • Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
  • Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
  • Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
  • Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory

As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.

Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees

Homewood Alabama pharmacy stockIndividuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Homewood AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.

Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available

Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech programs elect to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Homewood AL pharmacies will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide 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 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 required every 2 years by each program, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacist Tech Classes Online

Homewood Alabama young lady enrolled in pharmacy tech courses onlinePrior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online program, it's important to realize that most schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in an area Homewood pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to get some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Homewood AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes may be the ideal solution for you.

What to Ask Pharmacist Technician Colleges

Once you have decided whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy technician colleges to choose from in the Homewood AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Homewood residence. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other factors that you must consider in order to effectively compare schools. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.

Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online programs may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program together with the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Homewood 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 mandated in all states, but numerous employers desire that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist technician program should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This condition can be fulfilled by participating in a school sponsored internship program.

Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires a year of experience for certification, which may be met by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Homewood Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.

Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Finding that initial job in Homewood AL after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a challenging task without some help. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Homewood AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small 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 prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacy tech college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Homewood AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses 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 obligations.

How to Become a Pharmacy Tech in Homewood

Enroll in the Right Homewood Pharmacy Tech Course

Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is an important first step to launching your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting customers with their health is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician colleges incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to select a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate education and determination you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Homewood Alabama.



 

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