How to Pick the Right Pharmacist Technician Program Near Jacksonville Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near JacksonvilleAL, you may be thinking about just how to select the best program to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. A number of future students begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are critical concerns when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home in front 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 some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Responsibilities of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Jacksonville AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Training Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 alternatives to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Jacksonville AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally takes 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 in the future. Either program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Jacksonville AL employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by both programs, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Programs
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online program, it's necessary to realize that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Jacksonville pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to receive some real world 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, particularly for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials can be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online instruction may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Technician Colleges
Once you have determined whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are many pharmacy technician colleges to pick from in the Jacksonville AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Jacksonville residence. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are many other variables that you should consider so that you may properly compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician colleges and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Jacksonville 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 mandated in every state, but many employers desire that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacy technician school needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This requirement may be fulfilled by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of professional 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 work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the colleges have associations with Jacksonville Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Securing that first position in Jacksonville AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult undertaking without some help. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Jacksonville AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly 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 likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. 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 College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Jacksonville AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the right pharmacist tech training is an important first step to starting your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting people with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech programs incorporate both classroom and clinical training. As we have covered in this article, it's important to choose a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the proper education and dedication you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Jacksonville Alabama.