How to Find the Right Pharmacist Technician College Near Huntsville Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near HuntsvilleAL, you might be thinking about just how to pick the right program to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. Many potential students start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. And if you are interested in studying 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 technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Duties of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians have various job responsibilities, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Huntsville AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily tasks a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially two alternatives 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 usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Huntsville AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally takes 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 down the road. Either program should provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, a number of Huntsville AL employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer 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 work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Schools Online
Before choosing a pharmacist technician online college, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Huntsville pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to obtain some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Huntsville AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example 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 might be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
After you have determined 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 begin to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to choose from in the Huntsville AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Huntsville home. 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 several other issues that you should consider in order to adequately compare programs. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Don't forget to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Huntsville AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but numerous pharmacies desire that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician program should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This requirement may be met by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires a year of professional experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree 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 a working relationship with Huntsville Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first position in Huntsville AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without some help. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Huntsville AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. 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 perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist technician college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option 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 as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Best Huntsville Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the ideal pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where helping people with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician schools include both classroom and laboratory training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the proper training and commitment you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Huntsville Alabama.