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The Role of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Alabama pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily functions a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 options to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Alabama pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to become certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Alabama pharmacies will only employ a tech 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 applicant 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 candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Colleges Online
Before choosing a pharmacy technician online college, it's necessary to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Alabama pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Alabama home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online programs are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting 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 securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school 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 formal type of education, then online training may be the best option for you.