How to Select the Best Pharmacist Technician School Near Huntsville Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near HuntsvilleAL, you might be pondering just how to pick the best program to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
The Function of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have many job responsibilities, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Huntsville AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to 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 typical daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 alternatives to becoming a technician 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 provide an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom 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 takes about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech colleges elect to get certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Huntsville AL pharmacies will only employ 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 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 called for every two years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Schools Online
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online program, it's important to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part 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 benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician so as to obtain some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Huntsville AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course 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 essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Courses
Once you have decided whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist technician programs to choose from in the Huntsville AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Huntsville residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are many other issues that you must consider in order to properly compare programs. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? Many pharmacist technician programs 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 screened and verified to furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online programs may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Huntsville AL pharmacies 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 every state, but numerous employers desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician school 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 job experience. This condition may be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical 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 meet the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Huntsville Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial position in Huntsville AL upon graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a challenging undertaking without some assistance. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance 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 creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Huntsville AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online 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 perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist tech school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Huntsville Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the ideal pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where assisting customers with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech colleges incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate training and dedication you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Huntsville Alabama.