How to Choose the Right Pharmacy Tech Course Near Huntsville Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near HuntsvilleAL, you might be thinking about how to select the ideal college to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many potential students start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when selecting a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be evaluated also. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Huntsville AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically 2 alternatives to becoming a technician regardless if 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 provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Huntsville AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools opt to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Huntsville AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that is certified. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional 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 satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Schools
Before choosing a pharmacist tech online program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Huntsville pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to receive some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Huntsville AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Courses
After you have decided whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to select from in the Huntsville AL area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Huntsville home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other variables that you should consider in order to adequately compare schools. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program together with the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, it might help in securing 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 Huntsville AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech college needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This qualification can be satisfied by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates a year of experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Huntsville Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Huntsville AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting task without any help. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Huntsville AL home. Individuals who have chosen 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 importance. Something 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 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 for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes permit 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 prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to 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, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Huntsville Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the best pharmacy technician training is an important first step to launching your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy tech schools incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to choose a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This is true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the appropriate education and determination you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Huntsville Alabama.