How to Pick the Right Pharmacist Technician Training Program Near Madison Alabama
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near MadisonAL, you may be wondering just how to select the ideal school to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to find colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. Many future students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Role of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Madison AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage 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, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Madison AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Madison AL employers will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Schools Online
Before selecting a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in a local Madison pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken online in your Madison AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, especially for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials can be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online school you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Technician Schools
After you have decided whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are many pharmacist technician colleges to choose from in the Madison AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Madison residence. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you should consider in order to adequately compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Most pharmacist technician colleges and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a complete quality education. Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, it might 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 Madison AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech school should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification can be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates a year of experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Madison Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Securing that initial job in Madison AL after graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging undertaking without any help. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Madison AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy tech college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Madison AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Madison Pharmacy Tech Course
Finding the right pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, most pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy tech programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's important to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the right education and determination you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Madison Alabama.