How to Enroll In the Right Pharmacy Tech School Near Mobile Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near MobileAL, you may be thinking about how to choose the best college to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to find colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. A number of potential students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important concerns when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation should be evaluated as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Job of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Mobile AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out 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 standing. 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 occasionally having to work after hours is a very gratifying career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Diplomas
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically 2 alternatives to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn 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 usually include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Mobile AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Mobile AL employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Classes
Before deciding on a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in a local Mobile pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to get some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Mobile AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, notably for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online school you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online training may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
After you have determined whether you wish 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 alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician colleges to pick from in the Mobile AL area and throughout the USA, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Mobile home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are many other factors that you must consider so that you may adequately compare schools. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs 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). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Mobile AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many employers prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech school needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This qualification can be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires a year of experience for certification, which can be satisfied by means of an internship program. One of the best ways 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 fulfill the requirement. Ask if the colleges have associations with Mobile Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Mobile AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a difficult endeavor without some assistance. Find out 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 school has a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Mobile AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing 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 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 Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student 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 enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher 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 students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacist technician program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Mobile AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Mobile Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the right pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech schools incorporate both classroom and laboratory work. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to choose a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate education and dedication you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Mobile Alabama.