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How to Select the Best Pharmacist Tech Program Near Jacksonville Alabama

Jacksonville Alabama pharmacy technician stocking shelfNow that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near JacksonvilleAL, you might be thinking about how to choose the ideal program to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to find schools that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. Many potential students begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant factors when selecting a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.

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The Duties of a Pharmacy Technician

Jacksonville Alabama hospital pharmacy tech in lab coat

Pharmacy techs have many job responsibilities, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Jacksonville AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily services a pharmacy technician might perform are:

  • Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
  • Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
  • Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
  • Call customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
  • Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage inventory

Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career helping people with their health and well-being.

Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates

Jacksonville Alabama pharmacy shelves with prescriptionsStudents desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially two alternatives to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade 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 overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Jacksonville AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.

Pharmacist Tech Available Certifications

Certification is not required in all states, 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 Jacksonville AL employers will only hire 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 at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacist Technician Classes Online

Jacksonville Alabama young woman taking pharmacy tech classes onlineBefore choosing a pharmacist technician online training program, it's important to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Jacksonville pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to receive some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken over the internet in your Jacksonville AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online programs are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials can be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online program you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, 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 training may be the right solution for you.

What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses

Once you have determined whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacy tech programs to select from in the Jacksonville AL area and throughout the United States, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Jacksonville home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other issues that you should take into consideration so that you may properly compare schools. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.

Is the Pharmacist Tech Program Accredited? Many pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have obtained a regional or national 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 evaluated and certified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Make sure to check that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And many Jacksonville AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.

Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech program needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This condition may be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.

Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates 1 year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire 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 fulfill the requirement. Ask if the schools have associations with Jacksonville Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.

Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Getting that first job in Jacksonville AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a challenging undertaking without any help. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can place graduates.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Jacksonville AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy technician college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Jacksonville AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn How to Learn to Become a Pharmacy Technician in Jacksonville

Find the Best Jacksonville Pharmacy Technician School

Receiving the right pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where helping customers with their health is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician schools include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the right education and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Jacksonville Alabama.



 

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