How to Select the Right Pharmacy Technician School Near Jacksonville Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near JacksonvilleAL, you might be thinking about how to pick the right college to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of potential students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation must be evaluated also. And if you prefer studying in your home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Function of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Jacksonville AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily tasks a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is a very fulfilling career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two options to becoming 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 accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Jacksonville AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Jacksonville AL employers 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 requirements are that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Colleges
Before choosing a pharmacist tech online school, it's important to realize that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Jacksonville pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician in order to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Jacksonville AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online training might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Programs
After you have decided whether you would like to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Jacksonville AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Jacksonville residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other variables that you need to consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to provide a complete quality education. Online colleges may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Don't forget to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it might help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Jacksonville AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous employers desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech college needs to prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This condition can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Jacksonville Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial job in Jacksonville AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Jacksonville AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy tech college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Jacksonville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Jacksonville Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the right pharmacist technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where helping customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician programs incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to choose a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the appropriate training and determination you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Jacksonville Alabama.