How to Select the Best Pharmacy Technician Course Near Huntsville Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near HuntsvilleAL, you may be thinking about just how to choose the best school to get your education and training. Usually 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 colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical factors when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. And if you prefer attending classes at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some 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 classes.
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The Function of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Huntsville AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower 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 wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Training Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 2 options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Huntsville AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech colleges opt to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, many Huntsville AL employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 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 work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Classes Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online college, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in a local Huntsville pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician in order to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Huntsville 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 degree or certificate. And online programs are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that each online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online training might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
After you have decided whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist technician colleges to pick from in the Huntsville AL area and throughout the USA, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Huntsville residence. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are many other variables that you need to consider in order to adequately compare schools. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Don't forget to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it might assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Huntsville AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many pharmacies desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This condition may be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Huntsville Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Huntsville AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a challenging task without some help. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Huntsville AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes 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 school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy technician school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, check that they are available. 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 might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Huntsville Pharmacy Technician School
Getting the best pharmacy technician training is an important first step to starting your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping customers with their health is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician programs incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to select a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the proper training and determination you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Huntsville Alabama.