How to Choose the Best Pharmacy Tech School Near Millbrook Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near MillbrookAL, you might be pondering just how to choose the best college to get your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. A number of potential students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when selecting a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Responsibilities of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy technicians have many job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Millbrook AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the common daily services a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work after hours is a very fulfilling career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Millbrook AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges opt to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, a number of Millbrook AL pharmacies will only hire a technician 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 applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, 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 exam. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Programs Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacy technician online school, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Millbrook pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Millbrook AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials may 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 obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are considering 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 formal type of education, then online training may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
After you have decided whether you would like to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist technician schools to pick from in the Millbrook AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Millbrook home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other factors that you must consider in order to effectively compare schools. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have obtained 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 comprehensive superior education. Online colleges may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Be sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And many Millbrook AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech program needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This condition may be met by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of professional experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Millbrook Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Millbrook AL after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some support. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has a good reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Millbrook AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Millbrook AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Millbrook Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the best pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist tech programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to choose a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the proper training and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Millbrook Alabama.