How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacist Tech Course Near Hoover Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near HooverAL, you might be wondering how to choose the best program to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many prospective students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant factors when selecting a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation should be evaluated also. And if you are interested in studying in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and 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 technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job duties, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Hoover AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily functions a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Hoover AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges opt to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Hoover 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 candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Classes
Before choosing a pharmacy technician online school, it's necessary to realize that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Hoover pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to get some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Hoover AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
Once you have decided whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy technician schools to select from in the Hoover AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Hoover residence. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are several other issues that you should consider so that you may properly compare colleges. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to provide a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Hoover 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 mandated in all states, but a number of employers prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician college should prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This qualification can be satisfied by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates a year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech 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 meet the requirement. Check if the schools have associations with Hoover Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Hoover AL upon graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any support. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Hoover AL residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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 are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher 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 talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Hoover AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify 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 emergencies.
Find the Right Hoover Pharmacy Technician Program
Finding the ideal pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where helping people with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy tech programs include both clinical and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for classes online 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 certain to make the best selection. With the proper education and commitment you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Hoover Alabama.